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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: Weihnachtsabend
By Rick Higginson
10/02/08


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He crawled towards the hole, dragging the now useless leg behind him. Sliding through the gap in the sandbags surrounding the burned-out pit, he made his way to the bottom and lay there, gasping, as he tried to figure out what he should do next. He needed a medic, but had no way to signal one. Closing his eyes, he did the only thing he knew he could do, and sent up a silent prayer.

A moan to his right snapped his eyes open, and his heart raced to see the enemy soldier barely a few feet away.

The face turned towards him. “Haben sie wasser?”

His rifle was lost, and he grabbed for the knife instead.

The blue eyes strained to focus. “You are American? I cannot fight. Bitte; water.”

The man’s arms were twisted, and his uniform showed ample blood stains. "That could just as easily be me or one of my buddies lyin’ there," he thought. He put the knife back in the scabbard, and unhooked his canteen from his belt.

Pulling himself closer, he brushed the dirt away from the cap and opened the canteen, tipping it towards the man’s lips.

“Danke,” he said, after just a few sips. “I prayed that I would not die alone, und danken sie Gott, you have come.”

“You prayed? You’re a Nazi.”

He managed a weak laugh. “There are still Christians here, though I wonder if Gott has turned from us. Do you know what day it is, American?”

“I’ve lost track; seems like one day is just like any other here.”

“Ist Weihnacthsabend; Christmas Eve.”

“Are you sure?”

He nodded. “Do you know any carols? Bitte; let me hear the music of Gott once more.”

A mortar round hissed overhead, and a song came to mind. With a trembling voice, he started to sing. “I heard the bells on Christmas day…”

***

The battle had died down, and across the dark field a solitary voice could be heard. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm…”

Soon, more voices joined in; some in English, and others in German.

***

“Lieutenant, look at this, sir. We got some krauts comin’.”

“An open assault? Are they crazy?”

“No sir; looks like a German officer with a white flag, and a coupla soldiers carryin’ somethin’.”

He took the binoculars. The German colonel walked just ahead of two subordinates, who were carrying a litter. “Pass the word to hold fire, sergeant. Let’s see what he wants.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Donaldson; McHenry – you two come with me.” Slinging his carbine over his shoulder, he climbed over the berm with the two corporals right behind him, and trudged through the filthy snow towards the trio of enemy soldiers. When they were ten feet apart, both sides stopped. “What’s on your mind, colonel?”

The officer gestured, and the two soldiers brought the litter forward. “I believe this is one of your men, lieutenant. He is in need of medical attention.” Looking down at the sedated man on the litter, he clasped his hands in front of him. “I could take him prisoner, of course, and send him to a stalag where he would receive treatment, but not this time.”

“While I sure appreciate the return of one of our boys, colonel, I’m a bit confused as to why you would do this.”

“He was the one singing last night, lieutenant. When we found him this morning, he was next to one of my soldiers.” He carefully reached into a pocket and removed a sheet of paper. “He had this letter that he’d written for my soldier, to his family in Hannover. His transcription of the German is poor, but we were able to make it out well enough to understand it. My soldier did not die alone because your soldier stayed with him. He cheered him with the carols we heard, and recorded his final words for him. I have given word to my troops that we have a cease-fire for Christmas, lieutenant. We will be enemies tomorrow, but today, you may safely take this man away from here.”

The corporals took the litter from their German counterparts.

“Thank you, colonel.”

He turned away, and looked back over his shoulder. “Enjoy the holiday, lieutenant,” he said. Walking back, he sang. “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep…”

“…With peace on Earth, good will towards men,” the lieutenant joined in at the right moment.


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This article has been read 568 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Patrick Whalen10/09/08
So many tales of battlefield peace and cooperation at Christmas! Oh that it was not only upon this one day that we put our differences aside. Silent Night in German...I can hear it now...so peaceful! Thank you for the touching story.
Fiona Dorothy Stevenson10/09/08
A very touching story - very well told. God bless you.
Virginia Gorg10/09/08
It's sad that one night of peace can't last. Touching story with a true ring to it.
Henrietta W. Romman10/09/08
Oh what a lovely, lovely story! God bles you...I felt I was among them...and shared the fear...the duty...then the God dictated reaction of the heart that ended in Victory even thru
one night.

Thank you dear friend.....do keep the realistic writing....Amen
Lyn Churchyard10/09/08
A very moving story and well told. I enjoyed this very much, thank you. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 10/10/08
Wonderful! I love "I Heard the Bells...." and it's not done nearly as often as some of the other carols. I loved this story.
Karin Beery10/13/08
Very touching. I enjoyed the tale.

The use of "he" for all characters made it a bit confusing. In the 6th paragraph I wasn't sure if he meant the German or the American soldier. A bit more clarification would keep the rhythm going.

Nice job.
Valarie Sullivan10/13/08
Enjoyed this. I agree with the 'he' thing, kind of confusing.
Good job on setting the mood!
Lollie Hofer 10/13/08
A beautifully written, haunting tale. Well done.
Catrina Bradley 10/13/08
Yay! I feel like cheering! :) You lifted my heart with this excellent story of "peace on Earth" at Christmas.
Carole Robishaw 10/14/08
This was really good Hoomi, I Heard the Bells is one of my favorites. Thank you for an up-liftiing story.
Karlene Jacobsen 10/14/08
It is God alone who can bring unity to church, family or nations. This is a good example. Thank you.
Joy Faire Stewart10/15/08
This is a creative take on the topic and I love the thought of peace, if only for a short time...very interest story.
Norma-Anne Hough10/15/08
A very moving story.Thanks for bringing back memories of my dad telling us a similar story.
Norms
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/15/08
For me, this was one of this week's best stories, masterfully written.
Leah Nichols 10/16/08
Excellent writing - a very touching story. I don't know how you can punch these out only hours after the topic is announced....you're obviously a genius. :)