Saturday, November 14, 2009

Christmas Truce in Seattle

Being back in Seattle, I thought I might start organizing peace and justice concerts and events again - my little votes for a more assertive peace church personality for my local congregation (and denomination). I was playing songs for my daughter about the incredible "Christmas Truce" on the Western Front of World War I in 1914, when I realized that this year is the 95th anniversary of that belief-defying night.

On Christmas Eve, 1914, soldiers on both sides along the trenches from Flanders to the Swiss Frontier spontaneously and almost universally negotiated with each other an informal "truce" for the night. In the night, soldiers from both sides came out from their trenches and met each other in No Man's Land, exchanged greetings, cigarettes, and trinkets. Carols were sung, improvised Christmas Trees decorated, contraband liquor shared. The next morning, the truce miraculously held, and each side gathered the dead from the battlefield and buried them together side-by-side. In many places, the truce lasted past New Year's Eve, by when of course Generals and Colonels had heard about this treasonous truce negotiated without their consent - and were taking steps to stop it (replacing and moving regiments about that had participated in the truce so that they were facing troops along the trenches that they hadn't met and comisserated with over the holidays). And WWI went on. But not without a profound note of the possibility of Peace being heard across a continent mobilized for war.

I am organizing a celebration of the 95th anniversary of this momentous event, and it seems the stars are aligned, because so much is coming into place so quickly. West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice is on board for helping with promotion and logistics. The Seattle Labor Chorus has eagerly agreed to participate. The Seattle Peace Chorus is considering amending their already-busy holiday schedule to include the event. I have a readers theater piece about the event almost fully cast with fine readers. I have a sound system lined up to use. Organizations and other local events are very cooperative in advertizing and promoting the celebration. People are coming out of the woodwork to help. And just today I received a cd of a singer who performs one of the best songs about the 1914 truce - and he wants to play at the event.

I am giddy with excitement and amazed that this event is coming together with so little time to be put together. Somebody must want us to celebrate peace, I tell ya!

The event, if you'd like to come, will be at the Highland Park Community of Christ (8611 11th Ave SW, Seattle), at 7PM, December 24th (Christmas Eve). It will tell the story of the Christmas Truce in narrative, letters, songs and images from the period. There will be an opportunity for other local peace and justice organizations to set up tables for people to look at and learn more about them. There will be no charge for the event.

I'll try to post updates as the event develops. Needless to say, I am thrilled to death about this, and can't wait until Christmas Eve! :-)

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3 Comments:

  • Hey Christian, Glad to see you back, and promoting this amazing event. Good for you. It is a wonderful story.

    Blessings to all,
    Carman Thompson

    By Blogger Carman, at 5:39 PM  

  • I'm sorry I can't be there....sounds like a great service!

    By Anonymous Pam Robison, at 2:51 PM  

  • You might be interested to know that there is a new book "Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy. Murphy does a great job of weaving together the voices and the images of soldiers in the trenches so that you feel like you are there.

    He also details the "rush to war" which resulted in the Great War and how the key participants, the leaders, later confided that this was a war that need not have occurred.

    Over 100,000 took part in this act of defiance. Amazing and inspiring.

    Good luck with your service. It sounds inspiring as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:33 PM  

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