DECEMBER 23, 2016
Christmas 2016 finds us in many ways a divided nation.
We have just come through an unusually contentious election. And, in fact, many consider the past eight years to have been some of the most divisive in American history.
So, at a time like this, it may be best to step back from the events and issues that divide us and focus our hearts and minds on the uncommon bonds that unite us.
As we do, I am reminded of one of my favorite stories from Christmas past… A story that proves anew that the essential message of Christmas – “Hail the newborn Prince of Peace” – remains today as powerful as it is poignant, as timely as it is timeless. It’s the tale of a truce … a brief, fleeting truce … that turned a World War I field of fire into a pageant of peace. As Time magazine reported it several years ago:
On a crisp, clear morning 100 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front.
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches onChristmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, in a document later rounded up by the New York Times. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail:
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”
The next morning, in some places, German soldiers emerged from their trenches, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English. Allied soldiers came out warily to greet them. In others, Germans held up signs reading “You no shoot, we no shoot.” Over the course of the day, troops exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. The Christmas truce also allowed both sides to finally bury their dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on “no man’s land,” the ground between opposing trenches.
I believe you will agree that there is a lesson to be learned there – an enduring lesson that transcends the temporal and, especially at this time of year, elevates us above the trials and traumas that so often beset us. It is the Christmas message of “Peace on earth,” that caused the bloodied and battered Allied and German soldiers to lay aside their enmity and arms and “sing in exultation … joyful and triumphant.”
Truly, as Rifleman Graham Williams wrote, the spirit of Christmas “is really a most extraordinary thing.” And as I have said in each of the past several years, there is one particularly extraordinary Christmas message that should give us indomitable courage even in these troubling times. It’s from Isaiah 9:6, and it defines the hope that lies within us all: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given – and the government shall be upon his shoulders.”
Ultimately, man’s power is limited on this Earth, contrary to what some politicians and their antecedents might try to tell you. And even in the most dire of times, we rest secure in the words of one of my favorite Christmas carols, “the wrong shall fail, the right prevail.”
Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us here at Judicial Watch, and a Happy New Year.