Saturday, December 22, 2007

Digression: Christmas Truce of 1914

The song Snoopy's Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen gets a lot of play in the U.S. during the Christmas season. It's a perfect little late-1960's pop song with great hooks and a singable chorus and a nice message. More than just a hit novelty song for a short-lived band, however, it's based on an incident that occurred during World War I.

In what became known as The Christmas Truce of 1914, German and British soldiers fighting in France defied their commanding officers and celebrated Christmas with each other in no-man's-land between the barbed wire and trenches. As in the song, the Germans initiated the truce. The soldiers exchanged presents and sang carols. They played football (soccer) with each other. The truce lasted only a day in some places, in others it lasted into the new year. After the truce ended the massacre began again.

The truce is one of many stories that demonstrate that the people in the trenches often have a good deal more sense than their supposed superiors. A lesson for people who would aspire to be leaders.

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