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)
Obama: ‘No decision yet’ on Syria strike
US President Barack Obama has said he has not yet decided on a plan for retaliatory action against Syria.
But he said he had concluded Syrian government forces were behind a recent chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
Speaking on US television, Mr Obama said the use of chemical weapons affected US national interests and that sending a “shot across the bows” could have a positive impact on Syria’s war.
His comments follow a day of behind-the-scenes wrangling at the UN.
The UK had been pushing for permanent members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorised measures to protect civilians in Syria.
But Syrian ally Russia refused to agree to the resolution and the meeting produced no end to the diplomatic stalemate which has long characterised the UN position on Syria.
The US State Department criticised “Russian intransigence” and said it could not allow diplomatic paralysis to serve as a shield for the Syrian leadership.
Russia is sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean.
The ships are being sent to strengthen the navy’s presence in the area because of the “well-known situation” there, the Russian news agency Interfax has said. (Source: BBC News)