A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 143

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CARING FOR THE ORPHANS


number stayed in the war zone, in towns unceasingly bombarded by Teutonic barbarism, and paid with their lives the price of motherly devotion to wounded soldiers. Many were named in military Orders of the Day for acts of heroism.

From sheer sense of duty and love of country, women of every class multiplied their efforts to help in assuaging misery and mourning. The works founded and maintained by them form a list which, as compiled by M. Vallery-Radot, the son-in-law of the great Pasteur, fills for Paris and its outskirts alone a complete volume. It was a woman who had the idea of the army orphanage, founded for the purpose of taking under its protection the war orphans whose families lacked means to support them. The idea was barely broached before it was welcomed with boundless enthusiasm. The president of the republic, the presidents of the Senate and the all the members of the government, the most notable personages in Paris and the provinces, in business, in finance, in trade, in politics and art, accorded to this scheme at its birth the most eager patronage, and Parliament voted state aid to a project which in the first instance was to have been private.

The young father, stricken down while defending the liberty of his country and the independence of his fellow countrymen, gained the assurance that his little boy or girl, left in a mother's charge with no other resources than the meagre sum officially assigned, would henceforth be cared for, brought up, and educated under the auspices of a great and noble institution, possessed of every means to make these orphans into men and women capable, when peace should come, of working for the greatness and prosperity of the country. To women, too, must be attributed that charming idea of the godmothers (marraines). Among the combatants at the front there was a fair number of "lonely soldiers"; there were also all those who came from the invaded provinces, and were deprived of all news of their families, so that they never received a letter or a parcel to sweeten the rough reality of life in the trenches.

Generous women undertook the rôle of understudies, and with all sorts of attentions and much tact took the place of their families for these isolated sons of France. When the need of marraines was satisfied, another woman invented the plan of adopting a soldier at the front, and appealed to the young in schools, high schools and colleges, both of boys and girls. A

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