“…suddenly We Didn’t Want, To Die”


A few came in for lots of kidding because they read their pocket Testaments for hours on end. We called them hypocrites and pitied them. They were so damned sincere.

We remembered times they hadn’t been, before we reached the front.

It wasn’t funny.

We all had Testaments.

A loving people back in God’s Country had issued them to us with many blessings—and sent us out to fight the Germans.

They had not cared to see that we had tools of war.

We borrowed most of those.

Here were men who tried to make their peace with God before they kept a rendezvous with Death.

The Germans had “Gott Mitt Uns” stamped on their buckles.

Christians are such charming people.

The Americans suffered 9,777 casualties taking Belleau Wood, but Mackin survived the battle and the tough campaigning that followed. He was there on November eleventh when the front fell silent for the first time in four years. “Was there ever,” he wrote, “in the history of the race, a night like that? So queer, so still, so full of listening?”

By that time, Mackin had become a first-rate soldier. At Mont Blanc in October he was the only one of twenty-five runners to escape unhurt. For his work there he received, among other decorations, the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Silver Star.

After the war he served as a constable in his native town of Lewiston, New York. He moved to Norwalk, Ohio, during the Depression, and lived there until his death in 1974.