The Peacefield Rising

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This extraordinary encounter continued throughout Christmas Day, during which the dead were buried. Contemporary correspondence and reports from the period suggest that a football was produced and a game of soccer between German and British soldiers was played with the Germans emerging winners. Today, the debris of war, the hundreds and thousands of corpses and wounded, the mud and wire have all been removed.

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Apart from a small wooden cross and an accompanying information panel, the memory is all but erased. From an upstairs window I looked upon neat rows of maize stretching towards the church dome of Mesen and the Round Tower of the Island of Ireland Peace Park, some three kilometres distant. As I surveyed the site of this small but momentous and hope-filled moment of history, I imagined, by the th anniversary of the Christmas Truce in , a Flanders Peace Field for the children and youth of Europe and the world.

A field upon which, over and over again, that moment of humanity would be immortalised through the energy of the young. I saw, not a stadium, but a college-type sports field, surrounded by bleachers, around which the field of maize would continue to be harvested as sustenance for humanity.

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To create a Flanders Peace Field where young people will gather to play sport and reflect on the lessons of the remarkable Christmas truce for the twenty-first century. The Flanders Peace Field is inspired by contemporary correspondence and reports that give rise to the belief that a football match was played close to Messines and Ploegsteert Wood involving both British and German troops during the Christmas truce of The frozen ground was no great matter.

Then we organized each side into teams, lining up in motley rows, the football in the centre. On 19 December Dr Ian Paisley recounted to me the story of an old neighbour from his childhood who told him about the Christmas truce and who claimed to have participated in a football game:. I think it was right. There were too many [who said it happened]. What would they make that up for? They were severely rebuked afterwards on both sides.

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We know for certain that the Irish took an active role in the Christmas truce. The regimental history of the 13th London Regiment, the Kensingtons, records:. We were a little embarrassed by this sudden comradeship, and, as a lasting joke against us, let it be said that the order was given to stand to arms.

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We felt small and subdued and spent the remainder of Christmas Eve in watching the lights flicker and fade on the Christmas trees in their trenches and in hearing voices grow fainter and eventually cease. With the active support of the towns of Messines Mesen and Comines and the Messines Peace Village, this project will be aimed at drawing the youth of Europe and the world to the region to play football and other sports on the Flanders Peace Field.

They will do so in memory of the opposing soldiers who, on their own initiative, temporarily ended a war to explore their common humanity. The young people will be encouraged to actively engage in projects that contribute to local and international peace and development when they return to their respective communities. With imagination, other sporting disciplines can also be incorporated. It will be in memory of a homing pigeon named Cher Ami which, despite grave wounds, managed to fly back to its loft some twenty-five miles from the front, carrying the coordinates of a lost US battalion, thus saving the lives of almost two hundred men.

The Flanders Peace Field might also inspire visits from foreign dignitaries and international peacemakers. It is a world class youth hostel that can accommodate up to young people and their leaders. I have respectfully suggested that the proposed International Peace School might consider offering something unique and in keeping with the Christmas Truce Project and the Flanders Peace Field. The plan is to link the proposed Peace School with the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, exploring the role of sport in conflict resolution and international humanitarianism and development.

Inspired by the Christmas carols that enticed soldiers to leave their trenches and initiate the Christmas truce, I have initiated an annual International Christmas Truce Carol and Folk Festival in Flanders. The date which the festival will be based around is December 6th, the Feast of St Nicholas, which retains a strong tradition in this region of Belgium and throughout mainland Europe. By coincidence, Mesen church is named after St Nicholas.

It is envisaged that the International Peace School will participate in the Festival by incorporating traditional songs that explore the different cultures present in the trenches in There exists a body of literature and art which explores the theme of the Christmas truce. This all needs to be collected and made more readily available for research and reflection.

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There also exists room for much more. For example, the acclaimed UK sculptor and artist Andrew Edwards has a vision for the Flanders Peace Field that would incorporate a series of donated sculpture pieces from around the world that explore the theme of peace, reconciliation and sport.

A whole tradition could be built around such a walk. Andrew is already in discussions with the English FA about a monument commemorating the Christmas Truce football game. Youth, boys and girls, will be an integral part of the Flanders Peace Field enterprise. The intention would be to bring young people from across Europe and the world to stay at the Peace Village where they will participate in the International Peace School, learn about the Christmas truce, reflect on its relevance and message for today and experience the joy of sport on the Flanders Peace Field.

International sporting tournaments are also being devised which would see national Christmas truce school and youth club competitions culminate in international finals on the Flanders Peace Field. These competitions will be about inspiration. They will be about encouraging boys and girls to believe in themselves and to discover that the real joy of sport is in the participating and sharing. Winning is a bonus, but to lose with honour and grace is an indication of a true sportsperson.

What is important is that we work to preserve the memory of when ordinary soldiers, on both sides of World War I, decided to stop fighting and explore their common humanity. In doing so, they were responsible for an act of fraternisation that caused great disquiet among the high-ranking officers of both armies.

The generals were diligent in subsequent Christmas seasons to ensure that the truce of never again happened. Adams lost the battle in the Mason influenced election of leading to the modern chemical society, we live in today. The modern day Shane Adams figures out the recipe and applies for patent protection, only to face the wrath of the hidden society and officials who would rather not share their "take" from the population. Mandated by the courts to allow the recipe, what looks like the end of days turns into an all new beginning for mankind the age of enlightenment.

Read more Read less. About the Author Shane is a Licensed lawn technician in Michigan, inventor and blog writer. I'd like to read this book on Kindle Don't have a Kindle? Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Showing of 1 reviews.

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