Library of America
World War I and America

« Why Fight?

Alan Seeger

June 22, 1888–July 4, 1916

Born New York City. Moved with family to Mexico in 1900. Sent to Hackley School in 1902; in 1906 entered Harvard. Became an editor of the Harvard Monthly, where he published many poems. Went to live in Paris in 1912. After war broke out in 1914, enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. Mortally wounded during attack on Belloy-en-Santerre; awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire. Poems (1916) published posthumously.

"The modern prototype of those whom history has handed down to the admiration of all who love liberty and heroism in its defense, it is a privilege to march at his side... so much so that nothing the world could give could make me wish myself anywhere else than where I am." From a letter to Elsie Simmons Seeger, October 25, 1915

Image credit: Destroy this mad brute. Enlist - U.S. Army. By Harry R. Hopps, 1869-1937, artist 1917. (Getty Images)

Image credit: Alan Seeger. (Hulton Archive)

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