The Pomp of Yesterday
'Did I? I didn't know. Perhaps I saw you doing so and I unconsciously followed your lead. But I don't think I do know anything about soldiering. I remember nothing about it, anyhow.'
This conversation took place in the early spring of 1915, just as England began to realize that we were actually at war. The first flush of recruiting had passed, and hundreds of thousands of our finest young men had volunteered for the Army. But a kind of apathy had settled upon the nation, and fellows who should have come forward willingly hung back.
I had been fairly successful in my recruiting campaign; nevertheless I was often disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm manifested. I found that young men gave all sorts of foolish excuses as reasons for not joining; and when this stranger volunteered, as it seemed to me, unthinkingly, and without realizing the gravity of the step he was taking, I hesitated.
'Of course you understand that you are doing a very important