Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Worldwide Christmas Eve Commemoration of the 1914 Truce

Highly Sentimentalized Depiction of the Christmas Truce

Carillons throughout the world will ring out “Silent Night” at 19:14 p.m. on Christmas Eve 2014 to commemorate the Christmas Truce between the German, British, Belgian, and French soldiers on the Western Front in World War I. Seventy-eight participants in eleven countries will celebrate and remember the 100th anniversary of this action of peace. Sixteen of the participants are in the United States. The Carillon of Messines, Belgium, located just north of the most famous truce site, will launch the event at 19:14 hrs, local (7:14 p.m.). Performances in other time zones will follow at 19:14 local time.

On Christmas Eve 1914, as darkness descended upon a brutal landscape of trenches and barbed wire, the sound of carols rising from the German lines prompted curious British, Belgian, and French soldiers to raise their heads above the parapet. In the distance, they could see the glow of candles on small Christmas trees. Germans were also seen peering back. No shots were fired. Some soldiers raised their heads higher, and the men exchanged salutations. Enemies inched closer and eventually met. They shook hands, agreeing a truce for the following day.

We have been unable to find a comprehensive list of participating groups, but in the U.S. we have identified the following:

Baylor University, Waco, TX
Bells of Peace in Kansas City, MO
Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, FL
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI
McGaffin Carillon, Church of the Covenant, Cleveland, OH
St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Spokane, WA
Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon, Springfield, IL
The Washington Memorial Chapel, Valley Forge, PA

Also, we have not found much media coverage of the Truce Centennial on American media. Cable Network H2's documentary on the truce is the only Christmas Eve presentation we have discovered.

Thanks to Carilloner Carol Patton for the heads-up on this.

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