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Christmas 1914
Author: Mark Spencer

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In 1914, during the first World War, soldiers along the western front participated in an unofficial cease fire, known today as the Christmas Truce of 1914. the week leading up to Christmas Day saw parties of German and British soldiers exchanging seasonal greetings and songs between their respective trenches. This exchange served to ease tensions between opposing forces, enough to allow soldiers on both sides to leave their trenches and meet in that middle ground known as no man's land.

On the western front of one of the bloodiest wars in human history, men exchanged gifts, food, and souvenirs with "the enemy". They told stories, sang Christmas carols, and played football (soccer)...TOGETHER. They gathered their dead, and held burial ceremonies...TOGETHER. And if it had been up to them the war would have ended that very day. But it wasn't up to them.

When the German, and British high commands got word of the growing mood of "live and let live", they issued strict orders prohibiting such fraternization. What a shame that those front line soldiers, who ALMOST discovered the secret to peace on earth, chose to obey. Were the leaders of their respective high commands on the front line? Was it their lives in jeopardy? Did they ONCE pick up a gun and fire at another human being? NO! They sat in their cozy offices and barked orders at the men who did.

So close. Humanity came so close that Christmas day to changing everything. All they needed to win that war, and EVERY war to come, was one simple word...no. NO! I will not kill for you! I will not die for you! If war is so damned important to you, then YOU climb into these trenches and have at it! We're going home...to our families...to our friends...and that includes the friends we made here today!

But they didn't say no, did they? They crawled back into those trenches and started shooting at men they had, only hours before, played, talked, and sang with. And in doing so they damned their children! For it was their children who had to kill or be killed in the next world war.

Korea, Viet Nam, Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, when will it end? When will we say "enough"? When will we tell the folks who start the wars that they"re also going to have to fight those wars? Let those in the High Command lay on sand bags inside muddy trenches and shoot at men they know nothing about! Let the politicians and Joint Chiefs soil themselves in the mud and the blood. Let our sons and daughters spend Christmas with their families. If we, the people, could muster up the courage to say no, and every other nation's citizens could do the same, Christ could have His peace on earth. And the mothers of soldiers would never again have to live in fear on a day like Christmas.

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Comments on this poem/writing:

Bipedalguy (Don Crowell) (71.232.227.76) -- Tuesday, December 28 2010, 12:40 am

Amen

I didn't know much about that truce. You have explained a lot. I'd like this to happen.(where those in harm's way on BOTH sides say "no") But who says "no" first. Somehow they found a way to make the truce happen and someone had to make the first move toward peace(temporary as it was) It's because they were well motivated.
Too bad the 'Big Shots" don't have their lives on the line.
I don't have a cure for this reality. It's the major cause of the perpetual nature of war.
anonymous (71.217.62.9) -- Tuesday, December 28 2010, 06:01 pm

agree

I was in a war. I would go through their towns.Enjoyed talking to people, shopping, tasting their foods, watching the children play around me,I would swim with them, going to dinner at their home, visit their church.Taking pictures of the smiles. I thought? Who is the enemy? Why would I want to kill anyone of these people & kids? I see the military go through their towns, gather up all the 16 yr. olds & above. Force them to fight or be killed on the spot.Then I was thinking? It was the same for me. Drafted!Or throwed into prison. Yes, the ones sitting behind their desk, commands us. KILL, KILL, KILL!--------1968 Viet Nam
curious (67.251.100.215) -- Wednesday, December 29 2010, 05:21 am

???

you went to dinner at their home? would you mind describing the dinner, and the home? and i would like to hear about going to their church. what part of vietnam were you in, back in '68?
anonymous (71.217.59.234) -- Thursday, December 30 2010, 03:21 am

??? To curious

OK - U.S. Army weldor 44c20 spec.5 Central Viet Nam,small construction base camp 100 men, next to a little village called Song Pha. They lived in a shack, dirt floor, coconut leaves roof, bamboo walls using newspapers up the walls, we ate a soup bowl called pha, noodles & vegies, they played a strange type of instrument, few strings, no electricity, joined them at their church. Buddha's temple,they hit a bong every time, and up & down to their knees. I stayed in the back and allowed to observe. People like you and I, just living their life, with little that they have,carrying water from the stream,on a stick with two buckets, washing their water bufflo. Why are we disturbing their way of life? They just want to plant rice.
curious (67.251.100.215) -- Saturday, January 1 2011, 02:33 am

sounds like a neat experience for you...

i agree with you and your last line. 9th Div, 11B40, Bear Cat, then My Tho/Dong Tam, 1966-67; went through a village that had been blown to hell and back and there was one old man (Mr Charles had taken all the eligible "volunteers" from the village) and he was standing there, crying as we came through to run a recon on the results of an aerial bombing/straffing run - i don't think there were any unfriendlies in the area at all - they just did that sometimes, but it never made sense to me - he was saying something, over and over, and our interpreter said the old man was asking us, "Why?"
anonymous (71.217.49.208) -- Saturday, January 1 2011, 06:58 pm

Curious

OK-we've been there,seen that.I would learn Vietnamese from our boysun,mama,& papasun's and the RVAN's surrounding our compound. Try to understand their culture.Other GI's would say,"Why are you talking to those dumb gooks?" I would say, those dumb gooks can talk english,can you speak Vietnamese? Who's dumb? TDY to Nha Trang,Song Mao, building bridge. We improved their roads to Da lat and to Phang Rang & Cam Rhan Bay. Talked to ancient mountainyard people, entered their high bamboo stick houses, see their weapons of bow&bamboo arrows. No furniture,just hammock. Women are topless. Yes,why disturb their way of life for hundreds of years? Why, why?
curious (67.251.100.215) -- Sunday, January 2 2011, 12:58 am

you're so right -

and sadly, the bottom line was twofold: 1 - the almighty dollar in world markets... 2 - to save face and not be taken as a "paper tiger," as we have since become know to the world. We went into Vietnam because of SEATO, and we had pledged our support, but when it was requested, we proceeded to continually screw it up to the point where there is a Wall in D.C. in honor of screwing up. My entire squad (minus me and one other) are on that wall.
 
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