In 1914, a very unusual Christmas event occurred. The event actually happened. After reading this piece during the Christmas season last year at the Pierce Arrow Theater, I had a man tell me that his grandfather was at this event, and he had told his family this story for many years. I have added my imagination to the literary details of the story, but the historical event is factual.
The Christmas Truce
Only one year before, a farmer’s field outside of Ypres, Belgium, had silently waited for the approach of spring. But on December 24, 1914, the field was the host of the front line of World War I. Soldiers for both the German and Allied forces were reluctant to settle into their foxholes on that frigid night. It seemed that something special should be done on Christmas Eve. But how do you celebrate a sacred birth when you’re just trying to stay alive?
The Allied soldiers reminisced about family, food, and Christmas traditions. They talked about Mom’s turkey and dressing, decorating the tree, a warm fire at grandma’s house, and, of course, the anticipation of what would be under the tree on Christmas morning. All of those things seemed to have been a part of another lifetime. Tonight they were sleeping outside in freezing temperatures, feeling more lonely and homesick than ever.
One of the soldiers noticed a faint line coming from the German line, only about 50 yards away. That one light became two; the two became four; and then then entire line was lit with what the Allied soldiers realized were candles placed on trees. The German’s were decorating for Christmas! As the Allied soldiers watched and listened in amazement, the Germans began to sing “Stille Nacht.” Although they could not understand the words, the Allied soldiers recognized the tune of the beautiful Christmas carol “Silent Night.”
When the song ended, a hush fell on the troops. Slowly and clearly, the Allied soldiers responded by singing “Silent Night” in English. Then soldiers on each side of the trenches began to sing their favorite Christmas carols. The language barrier proved to be no problem that night as familiar tunes brought a feeling of love and peace into each soldier’s heart. An Allied soldier shouted a Christmas greeting into the cold, clear night. His greeting was returned by a German soldier. Soon Christmas greetings filled the gap between the two enemy lines.
Then, in what can only be called a Christmas miracle, soldiers from both sides began to walk into “No Man’s Land,” the area between the enemy lines. Meeting face to face with their enemies, these soldiers called a “Christmas Truce,” and openly and freely shared in a Christmas celebration. For one very special night, even the enemy was a comrade.
Today, 98 years later, may the “Christmas Truce” inspire each of us to lay aside our differences and celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, the Savior who is Christ the Lord. Let us proclaim with the herald angels that we pray for “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men.” This Christmas as we celebrate, let’s not forget the reason for the season. We celebrate the greatest gift God has given to man…the birth of His Son 2000 years ago on that beautiful most holy night.
Copyright 2007 Kim Boyce Koreiba. Please request permission to reprint this piece.
My favorite novel is “The Shepherd of the Hills” by Harold Bell Wright. The novel is set in the early Nineteenth Century in the Ozark Mountains about 10 miles from where I live. It is fictional, but it’s based on some local characters that Mr. Wright met while here in these rugged mountains. As is not uncommon, the educated stranger to these mountains is taught many important lessons by the regular folks who are born, live and die within a few miles. This is one of my favorite sections of the book. It’s a discovery that we all must make at some point in our lives:
“We build temples and churches, but will not worship in them; we hire spiritual advisers, but refuse to heed them; we buy Bibles, but will not read them; believing in God, we do not fear Him; acknowledging Christ, we neither follow nor obey Him. Only when we can no longer strive in the battle for earthly honors or material wealth, do we turn to the unseen but more enduring things of life; and, with ears deafened by the din of selfish war and cruel violence, and eyes blinded by the glare of passing pomp and folly, we strive to hear and see the things we have so long refused to consider.”
This article answers that question.
GARY AND KIM BOYCE KORIEBA
Gary and Kim have been married since 1990 and have two sons, Gary II, 18, and Alexander, 15. Family has always been a major influence in Gary and Kim’s lives.
Gary comes from a large Italian family in Michigan. His father owned a Christian bookstore, so Gary was exposed to Christian music through the store at an early age. Kim’s dad was the general manager of a gospel radio station, so she also had the opportunity to be raised around music. Gary and Kim both grew up singing with their families, and they both wanted to be involved in Christian music.
Gary left home at 18 to join a Christian band. A few years later, he moved to Nashville, TN and got the highly coveted job of singing background vocals for Christian music legend, Russ Taff.
Kim went to college, became Miss Florida 1983-84, placed in the Top Ten at the Miss America Pageant, and then moved to Nashville. Within a year, she had a record deal and went on to have a highly successful career in Contemporary Christian Music.
It was in Nashville that Gary and Kim met. Three years later, they were married. They continued to record and travel for the next decade. When their boys were 6 and 3 years old, Gary and Kim decided that they did not want to raise their boys on a tour bus. They wanted them to have a more normal upbringing. When the opportunity arose for Gary to sing with the popular Branson music group, the Koreiba’s made the decision to leave CCM and relocate in Branson.
Kim had planned to be a stay-at-home mom, but three years after moving to Branson, she was asked to fill in for the female vocalist at the theater.
Gary and Kim believe that God has directed their paths. “The move to Branson is something we had ever thought about…we had never even been to Branson. But when the door was opened, Kim and I both knew that God was leading us,” Gary said. We moved here for our boys, but we have all grown.”