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Earlier today I read an article on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I, which started 100 years ago today and left 26,000 men killed. My great-uncle Michael E. Tierney had been a wagoner in supply support for the 324th infantry which fought in that battle. It had been awhile since I had looked through his military service records that I obtained from the NARA, so I pulled up the PDF and had a look through.

So first, a sideline: Detail from detachment records for Michael E. Tierney, WWI (source: NARA)One thing I found oddly intriguing was in some details of his detachment and pay records once he returned to the United States in 1919. There’s a section for “Clothing Settlements” that appears to be an accounting of uniform-related items (?) when the soldier is separated from active service. A couple of the lines have the US due $15.00 and $6.60 for something or other (I can’t really read what the notes say.) But, in one of the lines, under the “Balance Due Soldier” column is the figure ($10000.00) . What could THAT possibly be? Did he forget to return his wagon or truck?

Well, no matter I suppose. What I really wanted to focus on in this post was the introduction to a book of photos I found relating to the Meuse-Argonne area fight. In Pictures of the battlefront of the 324th infantry: Meuse-Argonne, November 9-11, 1918, company Chaplain T. G. Vickers returned to the area the year after the battle to take a large number of photos.

DedicationHe also wrote what I find to be a very well-put sentiment on the need for men to stand up on the side of the Right* and that the men that have shared his terrible experience in this battle and the war overall will need to stand up and help steer the ship of the United States in a positive direction – while pointing out that the United States’ reaching a welcome and righteous destination is far from guaranteed.

(*Read “The Right” as the Honorable or Moral position, as opposed to a political standpoint is it is more often used today.)

I do not use this genealogy blog to espouse particular political agendas, but I do think his experiences make his perspective one worth listening to, and the strength of his words lingers in my mind as I think of our current events. Vickers says,

Such a body of men assembled for battle makes a serious situation for the enemy. Such a body of men scattered throughout the country in their homes and home communities makes a leavening element that will go a long way toward helping to make America an invincible force for right in the world, or a selfish, money-grabbing, power-drunk giant which will not only consume others, but must certainly come to destruction itself.

He goes on to say…

America needs manly, unafraid, unselfish men every- where as she needs nothing else.
Politics needs to be purged of its self-seeking, unscrupulous elements in order that our government may serve the ends for which it exists. It is imperative that there be born a feeling of brotherliness and co-operation among Capital, Labor and the Public. Wherever you look there is the same call for men who will do their work not only with an eye to their own rights, but also with due consideration for the other fellow.
Social life needs to be cleared of some of its dangers. In Church, in politics, in industry, in business, in the social fabric, in international matters, in everything there is the same urgent demand, nay, pressing necessity for men who have seen the value of Right, that they may decree by the irresistible force of their determined convictions that this country shall not become the victim of selfish or half-crazed men seeking to ram some pet scheme down the nation’s throat.
If we who fought in the Great War make up our minds that America shall go right she will go right, and no power can lead her astray. It is the man determined to live according to Truth and Right that must keep this land safe.

I strongly suggest you read his entire dedication and page through his photos and their captions.

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