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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Soldiers Had Right Idea with Christmas Truce | 12-24-2012
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The Real Side | | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Dec 24, 2012

mug_joemessinaI thought I would change up my normal rant and rave at the “other side” this week, since my weekly piece falls on Christmas Eve.

You know that whole peace-and-goodwill-toward-men thing?

The disdain and hatred that have built up between parties and social groups is really frightening.

We are Americans first. We have in many instances over the years come together, forgotten our political differences and fought as one American force. We don’t seem to be able to do that anymore. As Americans, we are family, and we need to come together.

Here is a real Christmas story that is an example of what the season can do, something we all should consider.

During World War I, on or about Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the western front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

christmastruce1914At 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. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. It was never repeated — later 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’ essential humanity endured.

During World War I, the soldiers on the western front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not destroy the Christmas spirit.

So I urge you, at least on Christmas Day, don’t check polls or political blogs. Check only your friends and loved ones. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them and care about them. Your friends on the “other side” are not the enemy.

To you who celebrate Christ at this time, Merry Christmas; if not, then Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivas, Happy Holidays or April Fool’s Day – whatever works for you. Just celebrate peace and joy.

From our family to yours, may the peace of the season be with you.

 

Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also an elected member of the Hart School Board. His commentary publishes Mondays.

 

 

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