One by one



They climbed out of the trenches and walked into no-man’s land. They had already killed more than a million of each other, already, four months into the war.Christmas Day, 1914. The sounds of German voices singing Still Natch got some English voices singing back, Silent Night. In truth there would have been Bavarian and Saxon and Hessian voices, Scottish and Irish and Welsh voices.No one knows how many soldiers were involved or how long it lasted, but there was a truce at that Christmas. Individual soldiers shook hands, shared pictures of children and wives and parents. They played soccer. They scared hell out of their officers, who made very sure the killing promptly resumed.They’re gone, now, the handshakes and their Christmas truce, the officers worried about peace breaking out. The empires that forced men to fight and die are gone, too. Not much remains but puzzling names in unread history books.Those Saxon and Welsh and English and Hessian voices that sang Silent Night and caused the guns to be silent for a few precious hours, those voices are stilled.But ours are not, and the song is with us still.I haven’t done much with friends on Facebook this last year, but I wish each and all of you a Christmas truce from the petty trials and tribulations that trouble our daily lives.The illustration is two British soldiers bringing some mistletoe back to the lines. It’s from Wikimedia Commons.

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