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ADDRESS OF MAJOR GENERAL JAMES G. HARBORD, U. S. ARMY
DEDICATION OF " BELLEAU WOOD"
July 22nd. 1923
Aisne-Marne Cemetery

It is very appropriate that this shell-torn wood and blood-soaked soil should, with the consent of our great sister republic, pass forever to American ownership. It is too precious in its associations, too hallowed with the haunting memories of that fateful June of five years ago to be permanently sheltered under any flag, no matter how much beloved, other than our own, and now in the quiet sunshine of a happier summer it has become a tiny American Island, surrounded by lovely France. I cannot conceive that in all time to come our country will ever permit the pollution of this consecrated ground by the foot of an invader marching on that Paris, which Americans here died to defend.

Insignificant in area, out of the ordinary track of travel not specially picturesque, and with no particular traditions in peace or war, this ancient hunting preserve the Chateau of Belleau, came into the spot-light of history by being at the spear-head of the German thrust for Paris in the last week of May 1918. For a short period, the music of its sonorous name was heard in all Allied lands, and for its brief day it held the head lines throughout the world. The great crisis of history pass unheeded by the actors in the drama, and it is not until after the event that the historian can say that particular hour on a crowded day was heavily charged with fate. The accident of place, the chance stroke of a zero-hour wrote the name of the Bois de Belleau on the tablets, and with it chronicled the immortal fame of the Marine Brigade, and their comrades of the Second Engineers.

There were no better troops than our Marines in any Army, and it is fitting that for this Memorial to the American arms, there should be chosen this battlefield where they fought with such desparate valor, to redeem which so many of them gave their lives. The Marine brigade was placed in line on the afternoon of June 1st. Its front extended from Thiolet Farm on the Paris-Metz highway through Lucy-le-Bocage, and over Hill 142, to beyond Marigny and Champillon. It roughly followed the southern edge of this valley and faced towards Bouresche, Belleau and Torcy. For several days there was nearly continuous fighting as the enemy tried in vain to gain ground toward Paris. On the 6th. of June, the Marines made the first attak on the Germans in this wood and in the village of Bouresches. Sibley's battalion captured the southern end of the wood and took the little town. The fighting was pratically continuous until June 25 th. when the last German was driven out and Major Shearer reported << This wood now exclusively U. S. Marine Corps >>. A few days later, the French Army Commander, General Degoutte, officially renamed the wood to be known forever on all French maps as the Bois de la Brigade de Marine. There were killed in and around this wood 670 officers and men of the Marine Brigade, and 7321 were wounded. The slain were in the proportion of about one to every five wounded, while the usual battle ratio is one killed to every seven or eight wounded. This means that many wounded Marines remained in the fight until killed by a second or third wound.

I may perhaps be forgiven if this ceremony today brings to me more clearly than to some of you, the half blurred vision of that other summer. In fancy I can still see the splendid columns in forest-green deploying across the fields from the great highway between Paris and Metz, in memory I endure once more the suspense of these days and nights, and am torn again by the consciousness of the cost at which this wood was taken. Who better than I should know that the men who poured out the red wine of life on these slopes, were the very flower of our race, the straightest of limb, the keenest of vision and the most dauntless of spirit! ! !

This melancholy spot with its tangle of wildwood, its giant boulders, its mangled trees, with here and there the wreckage of war, a helmet, a rusty canteen or, perhaps in some lonely forest aisle the still tangible evidence of deadly hand-to-hand struggle, will for all time be a Mecca for pilgrims from beyond the western ocean. Mothers will consecrate this ground with their tears; fathers with grief tempered with pride will tell its story to their younger generation. Now and then, a veteran for the brief span in which we shall still survive, will come here to live again the brave days of that distant June. Here will be raised the altars of patriotism; here will be renewed the vows of sacrifice and consecration to country. Hither will come our countrymen in hours of depression, and even of failure, and take new courage from this shrine of great deed.

 
Belleau Wood was purchased by the"BELLEAU WOOD MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION INC."
in the month of May 1923.
Chairman National Committee. the President of the United States

Honorary President
HON. HANFORD MACNlDER
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF WAR

President
Mrs JAMES CARROLL FRAZER

ANY AMERICAN DESIRING TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE ASSOCIATION CAN DO SO BY SENDING HIS CONTRIBUTION TO:
EXECUTIVE OFFICE, NAVY LEAGUE BUILDING , 1749 E STREET N. W. WASHINGTON D. C.
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