Always at this time of year, we at the Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida as well as other support organizations in the region, experience a very large increase of veterans and military and their families needing additional support and assistance — not only counseling and financial help, but also food, clothing and transportation assistance. It is these times that prompt us to extend even greater thanks to all of those local individuals and businesses and organizations that have supported our programs of assistance to veterans and their families. So, “Thank You!” Your compassion already has assisted many families who enjoyed Thanksgiving dinners. Many more will be able to have Christmas Dinners as well as enjoy having warm clothing during this colder season, and not have to worry about having their electricity, gas or water service being temporarily terminated. Truly, the magic and belief of the season is alive, and we are very thankful — for everyone benefits!

There are so many stories about the military and veterans during the Christmas season, and many were mentioned these last few weeks during coffee and conversation at the Veteran Advocates office, here are a few.

During Christmas in 1914, during the Great War, World War I, one very magical incident occurred on the battlefields at Flanders. With the British and French troops watching from their trenches, the German soldiers began placing small Christmas trees outside of their own trenches and lit the trees with candles. And then the German soldiers began singing familiar Christmas songs and, by gosh, the British and French soldiers then joined them in singing. Then some English speaking German soldiers proposed to their British and French counterparts that they start a Christmas truce. The message from both sides was “We not fight, you not fight.” British and French troops then began displaying “Merry Christmas” banners and greetings and, soon, the response from both sides was unbelievable: They left their trenches, exchanged greetings and gifts and buried their dead. They shared their tobacco, food, newspapers, postcards and other personal items. Then a Scotsman brought out his soccer ball and the game evolved into a regulation soccer match! They used helmets and caps to mark the goals, and the German team won by a score of 3-to-2. The frontline truce lasted until New Years Day, for the commanding officers on both sides ordered a resumption of the killing and fighting — and those who did not not obey faced a court martial. Soldiers on both sides reluctantly returned to their trenches and guns. Several of the German troops faced a punishment of being sent to the Russian front. Being very aware of this story, military commanders during World War II prevented the WWI Christmas truce from happening by issuing strict orders that if that activity happened, they would be severely punished.

This one happened in Korea on Dec. 25, 1952, when a C-47 Kyushu Gypsy cargo plane made several circles over a small isolated Korean island. Children playing below on the island would always wave and shout at the American aircraft, and the plane would then rock the wings in reply. But this Christmas day all was different, the cargo door opened and, from a low altitude, the loadmaster pushed out a container with a parachute attached. This day the container did not drop mail, but instead, more than 100 pounds of candy bars!

The pilot, 1st Lt. Don Davis from Natchez, Mississippi, told reporters that they had been collecting candy bars for several months because they wanted to bring a very special Christmas day to all those kids. Attached to every box and bar of candy was a message written in Korean that said: “Merry Christmas from the Kyushu Gypsies.”

“There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.” — Andrew Carnegie

or

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, help@veteranadvocates.org or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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