This will be my last offering for this year as many will be travelling and sharing the holidays with friends and family. We at the Hut wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
I want to share one of my favorite stories I repeat every few years ago at this time. It reminds us that despite the terrible things governments can inflict on one another that the rough men that do the hard work of securing freedom against tyranny can decide doing good in difficult times. It happened in Europe during World War I (the War to End all Wars).
The Christmas truce was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In areas men from both sides ventured into no man’s land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle, exchanging food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps while several meetings ended in carol-singing. Men played games of football with one another, giving one of the most enduring images of the truce. However, the peaceful behavior was not ubiquitous; fighting continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.
The following year, a few units arranged ceasefires, but the truces were not nearly as widespread as in 1914. This was, in part, due to strongly worded orders from the high commands of both sides prohibiting fraternization. Soldiers were no longer amenable to truce by 1916. The war had become increasingly bitter after devastating human losses suffered during the battles of the Somme and Verdun, and the incorporation of poison gas.
The truces were not unique to the Christmas period, and reflected a growing mood of “live and let live”, where infantry in close proximity would stop overtly aggressive behavior, and often engage in small-scale fraternization, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes. In some sectors there would be occasional ceasefires to allow soldiers to go between the lines and recover wounded or dead comrades, while in others, there would be a tacit agreement not to shoot while men rested, exercised, or worked in full view of the enemy. The Christmas truces were particularly significant due to the number of men involved and the level of their participation, even in very peaceful sectors, dozens of men openly congregating in daylight. It was remarkable and is often seen as a symbolic moment of peace and humanity amidst one of the most violent events of human history.
Keep sight the true meaning of this Holiday. His gift of this love to us is our obligation to share in deed and word. The Supreme Commander sacrificed His Son for our liberty.
Don’t forget our regular meetings continue the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7:00 PM (January 4th, 18th). Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in December are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy with always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians). Keep your eye on the weather in case things have to be postponed. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.