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100 Years On – Stille Nacht

How much courage does it take to poke your head out of your trench in broad daylight, especially if a few days before, doing so meant getting shot or drawing artillery fire?  Now, imagine climbing out of that trench entirely and walking out into the no-man’s land between armies that had killed each other by the millions.  Imagine watching someone from the other trench get up and take those first few halting steps toward you, and you don’t shoot them, but rather, you join them. What could get you to do that?

At Christmas 1914, that event, that show of trust and courage, happened thousands of times on both the Eastern and Western Fronts.  Soldiers from all of the gathered armies got up out of their trenches, met in the middle, and exchanged Christmas greetings, sang songs, exchanged small gifts, and reportedly even played soccer together.  A few weeks or even days before, they had taken every opportunity to destroy each other, and in a few days they would return to it.  But for that one, small moment, they weren’t Germans, or French, or Russians, or Austrians, or British.  They were human beings, and they used the occasion of a holy day to remind both themselves and each other of that fact.

The Prince of Peace came for all of us, and even in the finely sifted hell that made up the trenches and battlefields of the First World War, good men remembered that.  If they could find a place in their hearts for their fellow men, then what excuse do we have when we do not?

Merry Christmas to all of you, and to our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who fought, suffered, and died in those trenches, yet still had it in them to remember what today is supposed to mean, thank you.

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  1. Merry Christmas to you and your family, DB.


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