Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Christmas Surprise

From a Facebook post remembering the occasion, a hundred years later ...

Christmas 1914
In the trenches of the war to end all wars, soldiers from both sides stopped fighting.  It was their own idea, not their commander's.  French, British, and German soldiers ventured across the no-man's-land.  
At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs all along the western front. There is even a documented occasion of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 came five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was perhaps the last example of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated - future attempts at holiday ceasefires were quashed by officers’ threats of disciplinary action - but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal clash of weapons, the soldiers’ humanity endured. 

The truce lasted just from Christmas, 1914, to New Year's Day, 1915; then the soldiers were ordered back to their trenches.  A century later, most folks still understand the soldier's willingness to set aside their differences, but apparently the farther up the ladder you go, the harder it is to remember such things.

"We are all the same, though political ideologies and beliefs may try to tear us apart. These soldiers had a duty to fight for their country, whether Germany or the United States, but that didn't stop them from extending the hand of brotherhood across the battlefield, coming together in a time of war. In that moment, allegiances did not matter, only the kindness every soldier had in their heart not just for their comrades, but every soldier that day. May we remember, whatever we choose to believe politically or religiously, that first and foremost the person who you are looking at is just like you. Politics may drive us apart, but that should not stop us from coming together. Let's come together.  Merry Christmas!" ~FB comment by a young security officer