Tale of 1914 Christmas Day Truce Is Inspiring
What started with the singing of “Stille Nacht” on the German side, followed by a response of “Silent Night,” was said to have included an impromptu soccer game on the No Man’s Land between the opposing trenches.
“We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms on Christmas Day when gunfire gave way to gifts,” Prince William said at a ceremony in England two weeks ago to unveil a memorial to the event.
“Football,” the prince continued, “has the power to bring people together and break down barriers. It is vital that 100 years on, we keep the Christmas Truce story alive. It remains wholly relevant today as a message of hope and humanity, even in the bleakest of times.”
Hope and humanity and perhaps, ultimately, futility.
Soccer is a remarkable game that crosses boundaries around this world. But whatever took place on that day a century ago did not stop the carnage that took an estimated 16 million lives, nor did it break down barriers to prevent wars today.
“Sport, not war” has to be among the most contrite of phrases.
The sculpture unveiled by Prince William was designed by a 10-year-old boy, Spencer Turner. It depicts two hands clasped in friendship inside the outline of a ball. It is simple, brilliant and full of boyish hope.
And grown men are running with that hope. There have been re-enactments of the reported No Man’s Land game, including a match between the British Army and German Army teams in Aldershot, England, and a game in Belgium this week near the Flemish field where the truce happened. (Continued: New York Times)