Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy

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Author: Militia of Mercy

Belgium and America

It would be a banality to speak about the gratitude of the Belgian people toward America. Every one knows from the beginning of the war that when the Belgians were faced with starvation, it was the American Commission for Relief which saved the situation, forming all over the country, in America and elsewhere, those Committees who collected the funds raised to help the Belgians, and saw that they reached the proper channel and were utilized to the best advantage of the Belgian people.

But helping to feed the people was not enough. The Americans did more. They gave their heart. Every one of them who came into my country to act as a volunteer for the Commission for Relief, brought with him the sympathy of all the people that were behind him. Every one of these young Americans, who, under the leadership of Mr. Hoover, came into my country to watch the distribution of the foodstuffs imported by the Commission for Relief, became a sincere friend of my countrymen. He stood between us and the Germans as a vigilant sentry of the civilized world, and was able to tell when he returned to America all the sufferings and all the courage of the Belgian population.

I remember traveling in America some ten years ago, and being asked, while I was reading a Belgian paper, where this paper came from and when I answered "It came from Belgium, the next question was: "Belgium? It is a province of France, isn’t it?" Now I do not think that any person in America, nor in any other part of the world, will not know where Belgium is.

The American Commission for Relief has to be credited with putting in closer contact the suffering population of my country with all persons the world over who were eager to assist it. It especially brought the sufferings of our people nearer to the heart of the American population. Every one knows that. But what every one does not know is the silent and effective work performed in Belgium by Mr. Brand Whitlock, the American Minister. He was the real man at the right place and at the right hour. No one could have better than he, with his deep humanitarian feeling, been able to understand the moral side of the sufferings of the Belgians under the German occupation. No one could better than he find, at the very moment when they were needed, the words appropriate to meet the circumstances, and to convey to the people of this stricken country the feelings which Mr. Whitlock knew were beating in the hearts of all Americans.

When the German authorities forbade the display of the Belgian Flag, and the Tri-Color so dear to our hearts had to be hauled down, the American Flag everywhere took its place. Washington’s birthday and Independence Day were almost as solemn festivities to the Brussels people as the fete nationale, and thousands of persons called at the legation on those days; deputations were sent by the town and official authorities to show how deep was the Belgian feeling for the United States. America was for the Belgians "une second Patrie," because they felt that, although America was at the time remaining neutral, her sympathy was entirely on our side, and when the time would come she would even prove it on the battlefields.

It may therefore be said that although the war has had for my country the most cruel consequences, there is one consolation to it. It has shown that humility is better than the pessimist had said it was, and that money is not the only god before which the nations bow. It has revealed that all over the world, and especially in America, there is a respect for right and for duty; it has proved that the moral beauty of an action is fully appreciated. The war has revealed Belgium to America, and America to Belgium. The tie between our two countries is stronger than any tie has ever been between two far distant people, and nothing will be able to break it, as it rests not on some political interest or some selfish reason, but because it has been interwoven with the very fibers of the hearts of the people.

[signed]G. de Leval Avocat la cour d’Appel de Bruxelles, Legal advisor to the American and British Legations in Belgium.

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Chicago: Militia of Mercy, "Belgium and America," Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy, ed. Iles, George, 1852-1942 and trans. Colt, Oliver C. in Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed January 31, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8FH4URF722ZQQI7.

MLA: Militia of Mercy. "Belgium and America." Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy, edited by Iles, George, 1852-1942, and translated by Colt, Oliver C., in Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 31 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8FH4URF722ZQQI7.

Harvard: Militia of Mercy, 'Belgium and America' in Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Defenders of Democracy; Contributions from Representative Other Arts from Our Allies and Our Own Country, Ed. By the Gift Book Committee of the Militia of Mercy, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 31 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8FH4URF722ZQQI7.