Why can’t we just get along? We are more alike than different.
Politicians do not line up on the front lines of war. Let us focus on the similarities and not the differences to create a community, a nation, a world of peacemakers. As a little girl, I can remember my grandmother talking about the ‘Great War’ and the hardships she and her relatives experienced during that dark time. She told me that everyone was hoping this would be the war to end all wars, and we, society, would learn to get along. Sadly she lived to see WWll and the rest of that century of violence and hate.
Yet during those darkest of times in 1914, some kindness, Christmas goodwill and hope for peace was able to shine amongst the hearts of men in the front line trenches. Although the war continued and many died terrible deaths that Christmas of hope for peace lives on in each of us as we celebrate.
“On a frosty, starlit night, a miracle took place. In 1914, a melody drifted over the darkness of No Man’s Land. First “O, Holy Night,” then “God Save the King.”
Peeking over their trenches for what must have been the first time in weeks, British soldiers were surprised to see Christmas trees lit with candles on the parapets of the enemy’s trenches.
Then a shout: “You no shoot, we no shoot!”
The Christmas Truce was a brief, spontaneous ceasefire that spread up and down the western front of the First World War. It’s also a symbol of the peace on Earth and goodwill toward humans so often lacking not just on the battlefront but in our everyday lives.”
The letters from the soldiers were read and pictures sent that demonstrated peace was possible but those in power incapable to ‘get along’.
“Half-way they were met by four Germans, who said they would not shoot on Christmas Day if we did not. They gave our fellows cigars and a bottle of wine and were given a cake and cigarettes. When they came back I went out with some more of our fellows and we were met by about 30 Germans, who seemed to be very nice fellows. I got one of them to write his name and address on a postcard as a souvenir. All through the night we sang carols to them and they sang to us and one played ‘God Save the King’ on a mouth organ.” – Rifleman C.H. Brazier, Queen’s Westminsters of Bishops Stortford
“We soon came up to them. About 30 could speak English. One fellow wanted a letter posted to his sweetheart in London.” – Gunner Masterton
“Between the trenches there were a lot of dead Germans whom we helped to bury. In one place where the trenches are only 25 yards apart we could see dead Germans half-buried, their legs and gloved hands sticking out of the ground. The trenches in this position are so close that they are called ‘The Death Trap’, as hundreds have been killed there.” – A junior officer
“On Christmas Day we were out of the trenches along with the Germans, some of whom had a song and dance, while two of our platoons had a game of football. It was surprising to see the German soldiers — some appeared old, others were boys, and others wore glasses … A number of our fellows have got addresses from the Germans and are going to try and meet one another after the war.” – Pvt. Farnden, Rifle Brigade”
As we re-examine this last year and the troubled times of recent political decision makers, let us also remember that during the darkest of times, soldiers from differing political,social and conflicting perspectives made the choice to stop the killing and ‘simply just get along. This maybe a simplest and optimistic attitude but it all starts with one person, one voice, effective leaders to create that spark for peace. Social indifference, poverty, racism, violence against women, hatred of ‘other’ allows wars to happen. If they can find a way for peace, a few hours of kindness and Christmas cheer, if they can do it in 1914 we can do it in 2018.
“Really you would hardly have thought we were at war. Here we were, enemy talking to enemy. They like ourselves with mothers, with sweethearts, with wives waiting to welcome us home again. And to think within a few hours we shall be firing at each other again.” – Masterson”