“Ye flags of the second aeronautical unit and of the First Army, you keep in the mystery of your folds the memory of virtue, devotion, and sacrifice of every kind, to hand down to future generations the treasures of our national traditions!
“Flags, the souls of our heroes live in you, and when your fluttering silk is heard, it is indeed their voice bidding us go from the same dangers to the same triumphs!
“Flags, keep the soul of Guynemer forever. Let it raise up and multiply heroes in his likeness! Let it exalt to resolution the hearts of neophytes eager to avenge the martyr by imitating his lofty example, and let it give them power to revive the prowess of this legendary hero!
“For the only homage he expects from his companions is the continuation of his work.
“In the brief moment during which dying men see, as in a vision, the whole past and the whole future, if Guynemer knew a comfort it was the certainty that his comrades would successfully complete what he had begun.
“You, his friends and rivals, I know well; I know that, like Guynemer, you can be trusted, that you meet bravely the formidable task he has bequeathed to you, and that you will fulfil the hopes which France had reposed in him.
“It is to confirm this certitude in presence of our flags, brought to witness it, that I am glad to confer on two of his companions, two of our bravest fighters, distinctions which are at the same time a reward for the past and an earnest of future glory.”
Then the general gave the accolade and embraced Heurtaux, now less dependent on his crutches, and Fonck, suddenly grown taller, children of glory, both of them, and still pale from the emotion caused by the evocation of their friend’s glory. He pinned the badges on their coats. After this he added, in a lull of the conflicting elements:
“Let us raise our hearts in respectful and grateful admiration for the hero whom the First Army can never forget, of whom it was so proud, and whose memory will always live in History.
“Dead though he be, a man like Guynemer guides us, if we know how to follow him, along the triumphal way which, over ruins, tombs, and sacrifices, leads to victory the good and the strong.”
Of itself, thanks to this religious conclusion of the general’s ode, the ceremony had assumed a sort of sacred character, and the word which concludes prayers, the Amen of the officiating priest, naturally came to our lips while the general saluted with his sword the invisible spirit of the hero, and the blasts of the bugles rose above the gale and the sea.
VI. IN THE PANTHEON
In the Pantheon crypt, destined, as the inscription says, for the burial of great men, the name of Guynemer will be graven on a marble slab cemented in the wall. The proper inscription for this slab will be the young soldier’s last citation: