A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
This is the time each year we wish for peace on earth and good will to men. Yet, we seem, each Christmas, to find ourselves lacking that Peace and the Good Will.
Christmas, again, we find that American troops are far from home, very
near the birthplace of the baby who gave his name to the day we call
Christmas. Families will open presents and gather for a family meal and
rejoice over the birth of the Christ child, and yet, we cannot bring
ourselves to follow the teachings of that baby and stop fighting with
each other. Christ, himself recognized that, a couple of thousand years
ago, and said: “Men will cry peace, peace, but there will be no
Americans have found themselves in the
unenviable position of being the policemen of the world… by default. It
was thrust upon us. We did not seek it, we did not want it, but we
learned, much to our chagrin, that we had no choice. When the
“evil-doers” attacked us on our soil, we were instantly committed. We
have been at war now since September 11th, 2001. No end is in sight, no
matter what we may have been told.
Back in the mid
1800’s America found herself in another war, much worse that the one we
fight currently. It was a war among brothers. A war, which was being
waged here, on our shores, and the carnage, was biblical in proportion.
Families were torn apart by the war and entire families displaced as
the war raged up and down the Middle Atlantic States and even out west,
across the Mississippi River. 700,000 Americans lives were loss as a
result of that war. Many of the scars can still be seen today in our
buildings and landscapes. Many scars are less obvious, but are there,
I am a Veteran, and I’m a member of the
Sons of Confederate Veterans, and as such, I am acutely acquainted with
the scars -- seen and unseen -- of war. The entire reason for
the existence of the SCV is to prevent the memory of what those men did
from fading, or being redacted, from the memory of this nation. We feel
that by holding the historically correct (as opposed to politically
correct) reasons for that war up to public scrutiny we can learn from it
and never allow such a thing to happen on these shores again.
South was the recipient of more suffering and carnage than were our
brothers to the north. It was a sad, disheartening, time.
Here is a small part of the text of a letter, written to his family, by a Confederate soldier on Christmas Eve of 1863:
morning battalion guard mounting began for the three batteries. It is
Christmas Eve. I am sitting in my little cabin and my thoughts carry me
away to Helena where I see my good wife before the hearth with three
children around her; the eldest a girl standing and looking earnestly
into her mother’s face; the second a boy, five years old, sitting in a
small chair looking into the fire; and the youngest a girl about four,
leaning on her mother’s lap--all listening attentively to what their
intelligent mother is relating in regard to the visits of Santa
Claus having visited them on former Christmas Eves with presents of
toys, their curiosity is at its height to know if he will come tonight
and fill their stockings. Ah, will not these little innocents be
disappointed? Their father has not seen them for twenty months, and is
now far away battling for home and liberty, and has no means by which he
can convey them toys or money to purchase them. Whether their mother
has the means to spare in procuring Christmas presents for them is
unknown to me, but I pray heaven to provide her with the necessaries of
life, and to bless and cheer the young and innocent hearts of my
children during the Christmas holidays. Happy Christmas to my wife and
children!" [From The Campaign Diaries of Thomas J. Kay, CSA and
Robert J. Campbell, edited by Wirt Armistead Cate, 1938; entry
for December 24th (1863).]
Surely, there were similar letters written by soldiers on the federal side of the lines that Christmas.
as we tear open the Christmas presents, feast at the table piled high
with God’s bounty, lets us find time, somewhere during the hectic day,
to remember what the child, whose birthday we celebrate, taught us.
Even if we cannot find it within ourselves to put his teachings into
practice, we are, I believe, obligated to try. In the effort, we might
just find that peace so often mentioned at this time of year
us remember our troops, so far from home, in constant danger, because
so much of the world cannot bring itself to fight tyranny… of any kind.
Let us pray that those misled peoples will, somehow, find the courage
to stand up, like men, and fight the enemies of freedom as our brave men
and women are doing. Let us pray that they come to understand that the
brave American soldier, who dies on a foreign battlefield, has given
his life for them as well as for his own American family.
And, finally, let us pray that next Christmas will find America, and the world, in a less contentious state than this Christmas.
May God richly bless you and your family this Christmas and in the New Year to come.
Christmas, everyone, and please accept my sincerest gratitude for your
past (and continued) support of my feeble efforts at expressing and
sharing opinions on those things that matter and affect us all.
J. D. Longstreet