Over 100 years ago, as war raged on the mud-covered fields of northern France and Belgium, soldiers put down their guns, and came together for a Christmas truce.
The Infamous Christmas Truce
I’m sure all of us know the story of the first Christmas truce that took place during the First World War in 1914.
But for those of you who have haven’t, or have been living in a cave for decades (although why you’d pick this year to come out, I’d have no idea), let’s recap.
As the men serving the forces of the Entente and the Central Powers bunkered down into their trenches for the first Christmas of what was to be a long and bloody war, the men of both sides decided that as good Christians, Christmas was a time for peace, not for war.
All up and down the Western Front, English and French, and then the Germans, tried to reach out to each other.
First, carols could be heard floating across No Man’s Land, and Christmas trees were poked up above the parapets.
Silent Night is one of my favorite songs that created one of my favorite stories
In August 1914, German soldiers singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve inspired a Christmas truce pic.twitter.com/1LZvJROPVZ
— Joe Martin (@joeDmarti) December 20, 2020
After a while, some of the bravest men made their way out onto the battlefield itself, scarred by shelling and covered in barbed wire, not to kill each other, but to shake hands.
Men who had been doing nothing but killing each other for months now came together as brothers.
The men bonded, showing each other photos of their families, tales from home, and promised to make contact when the war was over.
Most famously, games of football (soccer, for my American friends) started breaking out, and the men enjoyed a Christmas sporting match together.
Sadly, the truce was then cut short by time itself, and the brave men were forced to fight each other once again.
Many of them shot up deliberately in the air for days afterwards, doing their best not to hit one another.
The Christmas Truce Memorial pic.twitter.com/g0vsIWsYFd
— PRH191418 (@QMGS191418) December 22, 2020
What Can We Learn From The Christmas Truce
A Christmas truce in today’s world sounds fantastical.
Even though we are not going to war with each other, it feels like we have an even further divide than the men who faced each other across the battlefield.
In many ways, this is true. The ordinary men of Europe were not fighting over a difference in values – they all shared the same Christian ones, and thus had something in common to bond over.
What does it say about today that such a truce, a time of reconciliation and peace, seems impossible?
It’s all we can do but to hope and pray that soon enough, Americans, will once again come together as one nation, under God, and heal bitter wounds.
If the men one hundred years ago can do it, so should we.
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