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Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

Blood Angel

From Daily Encounter by Dick Innes

In 1949, my father had just returned home from the war. On every
American highway you could see soldiers in uniform hitchhiking home to
their families, as was the custom at that time in America. Sadly, the
thrill of his reunion with his family was soon overshadowed. My
grandmother became very ill and had to be hospitalized. It was her
kidneys, and the doctors told my father that she needed a blood
transfusion immediately or she would not live through the night.

The problem was that Grandmother’s blood type was AB negative, a very
rare type even today, but even harder to get then because there were
no blood banks or air flights to ship blood. All the family members
were typed, but not one member was a match. So the doctors gave the
family no hope; my grandmother was dying. My father left the hospital
in tears to gather up all the family members, so that everyone would
get a chance to tell Grandmother good-bye.

As my father was driving down the highway, he passed a soldier in
uniform hitchhiking home to his family. Deep in grief, my father had
no inclination at that moment to do a good deed. Yet it was almost as
if something outside himself pulled him to a stop, and he waited as
the stranger climbed into the car. My father was too upset to even ask
the soldier his name, but the soldier noticed my father’s tears right
away and inquired about them.

Through his tears, my father told this total stranger that his mother
was lying in a hospital dying because the doctors had been unable to
locate her blood type, AB negative, and if they did not locate her
blood type before nightfall, she would surely die. It got very quiet
in the car. Then this unidentified soldier extended his hand out to my
father, palm up. Resting in the palm of his hand were the dog tags
from around his neck. The blood type on the tags was AB negative. The
soldier told my father to turn the car around and get him to the hospital.

My grandmother lived until 1996, 47 years later, and to this day no
one in our family knows the soldier’s name. But my father has often
wondered, was he a soldier or an angel in uniform? Sometimes, we never
know who God will bring into our lives to carry out a special mission,
nor do we know whose lives God will have us touch.

The Christmas Carol

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – When World War I erupted in 1914 launching the
first great European war of the 20th century, soldiers on both sides
were assured they would be home by Christmas to celebrate victory.
That prediction proved to be false.

The men on the fronts did not get home for Christmas as the war
dragged on for four years. During that time 8.5 million men were
killed, with hundreds of thousands more injured. The "war to end all
wars" took a horrific human toll and transformed Europe. However, on
Christmas Eve in December 1914 one of the most unusual events in
military history took place on the Western front.

On the night of Dec. 24 the weather abruptly became cold, freezing the
water and slush of the trenches in which the men bunkered. On the
German side, soldiers began lighting candles. British sentries
reported to commanding officers there seemed to be small lights raised
on poles or bayonets.

Although these lanterns clearly illuminated German troops, making them
vulnerable to being shot, the British held their fire. Even more
amazing, British officers saw through their binoculars that some enemy
troops were holding Christmas trees over their heads with lighted
candles in their branches. The message was clear: Germans, who
celebrated Christmas on the eve of Dec. 24, were extending holiday
greetings to their enemies.

Within moments of that sighting, the British began hearing a few
German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up all
along the German line as other soldiers joined in harmonizing.

The words heard were these: "Stille nacht, heilige nacht." British
troops immediately recognized the melody as "Silent Night" quickly
neutralized all hostilities on both sides. One by one, British and
German soldiers began laying down their weapons to venture into no-
man’s-land, a small patch of bombed-out earth between the two sides.
So many soldiers on both sides ventured out that superior officers
were prevented from objecting. There was an undeclared truce and peace
had broken out.

Frank Richards was an eyewitness of this unofficial truce. In his
wartime diary he wrote: "We stuck up a board with ‘Merry Christmas’ on
it. The enemy stuck up a similar one. Two of our men threw off their
equipment and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads
as two of the Germans did the same, our two going to meet them.

"They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench and so did the
Germans," Richards said. Richards also explained that some German
soldiers spoke perfect English with one saying how fed up he was with
the war and how he would be glad when it was all over. His British
counterpart agreed.

That night, former enemy soldiers sat around a common campfire. They
exchanged small gifts from their meager belongings – chocolate bars,
buttons, badges and small tins of processed beef. Men who only hours
earlier had been shooting to kill were now sharing Christmas
festivities and showing each other family snapshots. The truce ended
just as it had begun, by mutual agreement.

Captain C.I. Stockwell of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers recalled how,
after a truly "Silent Night," he fired three shots into the air at
8:30 a.m. December 26 and then stepped up onto the trench bank. A
German officer who had exchanged gifts with Captain Stockwell the
previous night also appeared on a trench bank. They bowed, saluted and
climbed back into their trenches. A few minutes later, Captain
Stockwell heard the German officer fire two shots into the air.

The war was on again.