Special Holiday Message from Chas Cornweller
This time every year it comes to this. A season of goodwill and love toward our fellow humans and a generous and giving spirit to family and those less fortunate than us. At least that is the intent. Reality, for most of us, is quite different. But, I digress. I would like to remind readers of an actual moment of Christmas that truly occurred and resounds with the spirit, if not true intent of the birth of Humanity’s Savior.
1914 – The first year of World War I. Known as the Christmas truce, this Christmas moment occurred during a lull in fighting as the leadership considered their strategies following four months of static fighting and lack of progress for either side. By this point, many battalions of men had dug into the Belgium and French countryside for shelter and defensive protection. The land between the two sides had already earned its nickname; No Man’s Land. But the war was still in its infancy, unknown to the men fighting, at this time. There was still a certain amount of esprit de corps amongst the soldiers and even a respect for the enemy. In 1914, no one could foresee the horrors that would enfold these same trenches and the number of men who would fall. That Christmas, even in War, the world remained innocent.
The Christmas truce was not a sanctioned or even a pre-conceived truce but was built out of the spontaneity of the moment. Perhaps, a carol sung from one side and joined in by the other side. No one is really sure, no one now knows how it happened. But, inevitably fraternization occurred and before the day was out, gifts of chocolate, bread, tobacco and beer were exchanged throughout the entire front lines. Even more touching, photos of girlfriends, wives and families were viewed and commented upon, marking a truly personal exchange of a reality, much different than the moment they were currently experiencing. In some quarters, within the area now known as “No Man’s Land”, soccer (football to Europeans) matches took place. I can only imagine the air filled with the whoops and cries of grown men (and a few young boys, as well) yelling into the bleached-out winter day, encouraging their teams to score a goal or recover the ball from their opponents. The smoke of exchanged cigarettes and pipe tobacco mingled in the cold air with the hot breath of living beings, coupled with back-slaps and handshakes on a game well-played. An honest moment of true brotherly comradery. A rare moment in history that lasted only one day. A day that was honored and observed for the birth of one who, in the light of all of man’s evil, was supposed to wash the sins and guilt of all the malice that resides in man’s heart; clean away. A tiny baby, who when fully grown into manhood, would stand before the Prefect of Rome, the strongest and cruelest nation on Earth at that time, and be denounced unto death. A man, whose only crime was to challenge the status quo of a hierarchy that was not only corrupt but used their positions to mis-lead and mis-direct the populace with laws that had no heart and in turn, created a repressed and shallow society. A man whose divine soul was judged on Earth but had already been bestowed a crown in his father’s kingdom in Heaven. A teacher of men, whose words and deeds pointed the way to that Kingdom and promised peace and an everlasting existence in that peace. Who, while executed on a hillside, was found walking in a garden by Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James three days afterward. This is the message of that first Christmas day. The birth of the denial of death. Christmas reminds us of that promise. It should remind us of our own mortality and of that window that is life and the short time we all have here to give back. Those soldiers understood that. They had seen their comrades fall. They knew that only fate had kept them here for the time being. And they wanted nothing more than to experience normalcy and sanity, if just for one more day. I am sure, for many of these men, on both sides…this was their last Christmas.
The following year, there were few Christmas truces. The generals and their leaders made sure of it, posting strongly worded orders forbidding fraternization with the enemy on penalty of death. By 1916, the war had turned such that neither side was amenable to any truce. The world was no longer so innocent. Men died by the millions during that war. A war that was supposed to end all wars. But, you and I know that just isn’t so. So, even today, young men await their fate and fall on the battlefield. Many, if not all, are received into the Kingdom of that One whom all sins were washed, and are asked, as they enter, “What did you do on Earth with the time, talents and treasure given to you?
Christmas Day 2018 – List of Wars Currently – Cumulative Fatalities
- Afghanistan – 31,000 (civilians and combatants)
- Iraq – 500,000 (approximate)
- Mexican Drug War – 250,000 (approximate)
- Syrian – 450,000 (approximate) – of which contain civilian deaths due to famine
- Yemeni – 13,000 (approximate – due to battle) over 50,000 due to famine
Merry Christmas everyone. I pray we find the world at peace this time next year.