The Christmas Truce of 1914, and the true meaning of Christmas.
Imagine a war torn countryside illuminated by the moonlight and stars. The open fields are scarred and ravaged by trenches. Craters from the mortars fired by both sides dot the dreaded "No Man's Land". Both sides are tired, wet, cold and long for the comforts of home.
On Christmas Eve in 1914, a series grass root truces occurred between the Germans and British armies along the 27 mile front. The guns were silent, the dead were retrieved and brought back for burial. But in the midst of this gruesome task voices both German and English could be heard wishing each other a Merry Christmas. Then a voice begins to sing a Christmas Carol then the one voice becomes 2, then 3 until the battlefield is filled with sounds of singing and well wishes. Not the sounds of war. One by one soldiers climb out of their wet and slimy trenches and meet with those that earlier in the day were their sworn enemy to share gifts of chocolate, and cigarettes, swap buttons and even play a game of soccer.
This camaraderie lasted only for Christmas Day and was over as soon as it started. Captain J C Dunn, the Medical Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers wrote: "'At 8.30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with "Merry Christmas" on it, and I climbed on the parapet. He [the Germans] put up a sheet with "Thank you" on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet. We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again." (First World War.com).
As I sit here thinking how am I going to get everything done to make that picture perfect Christmas for my family, I am struck by that there is something so much more to Christmas and life. That we as a society in most cases have a hard time reaching out across "No Man Land" to those of us that are in need. And as we find ourselves in the midst of a economic depression, and wars on two fronts that maybe we need to learn from these heroic men of 1914 and reach out to our "enemies" in the true spirit of Christmas.
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