From World War I Document Archive
Revision as of 16:01, 30 August 2006 by Hirgen
Extract from: "Around the World with Swash and Buckle" by Robert Waldron, American Heritage August 1967, pp 56 & 74):
He was the most celebrated journalist of his time belore he was thirty, and he moved through the dangers and graces of his era with the daring insouciance of one of his fictional heroes. His by-line was a herald's trumpet sounding across the timescape of fin de siecle, calling the nation to view the pageantry of destiny through his eyes, to live the high adventure of it with him.
Richard Harding Davis became the embodiment of all the hungry hopes of youth for early success. His newspaper career created, in fact, a new mold of socially acceptable accomplishment for ambitious and well-bred Americans. He was a star reporter among the company of Dana and Brisbane's New York York Sun men when he was twenty-five. Two years later he was managing editor of Harper's Weekly ....
Convinced that America would be drawn into the conflict, and equally convinced that we were unready, he hurried back to help organize the propaganda of preparedness. When a volunteer brigade of wealthy New Yorkers organized at Plattsburg, he joined them for a rugged four-week training course and taxed his aging heart with still-youthful enthusiasm. He began to suffer angina symptoms, but wrote them off to indigestion. When the Wheeler Syndicate again asked him to represent its newspapers, he returned to the front, first to France, then to Greece, where the battered British and French divisions were being rolled back out of Serbia. During the bitter winter of 19l5 he covered the Balkan Campaign from Salonika, dressing formally for dinner promptly at six each evening, and each morning taking icy baths in his portable tub with a fine regard for ritual and a foolish disdain for a heart already weakened.
After a final tour of the western front he came home to Crossroads Farm, to Bessie and his year-old daughter, Hope. In three months he was dead of a heart attack. The war that killed his era had killed Davis.
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