Wednesday 20th August 2014

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Christmas 1945: Peace At Last

December 24, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By MICHAEL D. HULL

Finally, as the Christmas season of 1945 arrived, the world was at peace.
True, there would be many lesser conflicts and tensions in the coming decades, but World War II — the most far-reaching and devastating period in recorded history — had ended with victory for the Allied democracies. Spirits were high.
Fifty-seven Allied and Axis countries had been involved, and the six-year war claimed an estimated 15 million military personnel killed and missing, and twice that number of civilian deaths from bombings, starvation, drownings, and murder.
As 1945 waned, there was still widespread suffering in the countries where the bitter campaigns had been fought, from Northwest Europe to Russia, and from the Mediterranean to the Far East. Cities had been razed, crops destroyed, and many people left homeless, weary, and deprived of life’s necessities.
But for the victorious nations there was now time to hope, chart the future, and ensure that there would be no more global bloodlettings. For Americans, 1945 brought the first peacetime Christmas since 1940, and for the British, the first since 1938.
Across the United States, returning soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines rode crowded trains and buses, hoping to reach their homes in time to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. Waiting families sang carols, wrapped presents, hung pine wreaths on front doors, and prayed for the other sons, fathers, and brothers still languishing in staging camps far away.
Unlike the other countries ravaged by the war’s sacrifices, America had emerged ready to charge ahead with a booming economy and the resources necessary for assuming a leading role in maintaining postwar stability. Her people were ready and able to embrace Christmas in full measure.
For President Harry S Truman, who had taken office only seven months earlier, it was to be his first yuletide in the White House. On December 23, he went out and took a brisk walk on the icy paths behind the mansion. “It is cold as mischief,” he reported in a letter that day to his daughter, Margaret. Kept from slipping on the ice by four Secret Service agents and two policemen, he took a look at the national Christmas tree, where he planned to switch on the lights and address the nation at 5:16 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
A holiday spirit glowed in the chilly air in every city and town, and downtown shoppers jammed buses, trolley cars, and stores along brightly lit Broadway and Hollywood Boulevard. Bing Crosby’s top-selling White Christmas was heard regularly, Arthur Godfrey Time began a 27-year run on CBS Radio, Art Linkletter starred in the network’s debut of House Party, Fords rolled off the assembly lines for the first time in several years, more than 25,000 people gawked at a television set during a three-week demonstration at the Gimbel Brothers department store in Philadelphia, and at the Mississippi-Alabama Dairy Show, a 10-year-old boy from Memphis, Tenn., sang Old Shep and won a $5 second-place prize. His name was Elvis Presley.
Thousands of miles away, one of America’s most famous soldiers welcomed Christmas in Tokyo. After attending a tea party at the British Embassy, General of the Army Douglas A. MacArthur gave his ten-year-old son, Arthur, a portable typewriter and a shiny new bicycle, and penned a thanksgiving message:
“On this Christmas Day — the first in five years on which our guns have been silent — I join with all members of this command in thanking God for our deliverance from the death and destruction of war, and pray that our merciful Lord will sustain us in our efforts to realize in its fullest the ideal which Christ brought to the world — peace on earth and to all men, goodwill.”
But, for another prominent American soldier who had also battled tyranny in two world wars there was to be no Christmas celebration. He was Lt. Gen. George S. (“Blood and Guts”) Patton Jr., the fire-eating, profane, yet reverent veteran of the North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and Ardennes campaigns, and whose Third Army tanks and tank-destroyers scourged the retreating Germans in 1944-1945.
Early on the morning of Sunday, December 9, the day before he was due to sail home for a well-earned Christmas leave, Patton and his chief of staff, Major Gen. Hobart R. “Hap” Gay, drove off to hunt pheasant near Mannheim, Germany. Approaching the city, their Cadillac limousine collided with an Army truck that suddenly turned left across the autobahn. Patton was thrown forward awkwardly into the driver’s steel-and-glass partition, with his nose and neck broken, his scalp bleeding profusely, and his spinal cord damaged.
Patton, who had often said that he wanted to be killed by the last bullet in the last battle of the war, growled that a traffic accident was “a hell of a way to die.” He was rushed to an Army hospital in Heidelberg, placed in traction, and a noted neurosurgeon from Oxford University was flown in. But there was nothing he could do. Immobile and helpless, Patton lingered bravely for 13 days before succumbing in his sleep to “pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure” late on the afternoon of December 21.
He was buried under a simple white marker, alongside other Third Army soldiers, in the American military cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg, on the overcast, windy morning of Christmas Eve. Among the generals, soldiers, and reporters at the 25-minute ceremony, the focal figure was Patton’s widow, Beatrice. “Her eyes were red, but for the rest she was the same good soldier her husband had been,” wrote Walter Cronkite of the Washington Times-Herald.
At Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, meanwhile, wounded veterans of campaigns in Europe and the Pacific gaped when an unannounced visitor strode into their wards on Christmas Eve.
He was General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, former commander of the Allied crusade in Europe and the new Army chief of staff. There to visit “his boys,” the genial Ike stopped at every bedside to shake hands and chat. “It’s certainly a better Christmas for all of us,” he said.

A Greater Peace

Christmas 1945 was a time of thanksgiving and renewed hope for Americans, wearied from four years of shortages and fears for their uniformed loved ones serving on distant battlefronts. They went to crowded midnight Masses, cooked big turkeys, and piled dolls, bicycles, and Lionel train sets under living-room trees. It was a bountiful yuletide, and they relished it.
Across the Atlantic, however, the war had taken a more severe toll on their staunch British allies. Having borne the brunt of the global holocaust from the start, they faced yet another belt-tightening Christmas. The country’s stringent rationing system allocated some extra meat, margarine, sugar, and sweets for the holiday, and even oranges were once again obtainable in London and other districts.
But people still had to “make a little go a long way.” (There was not be a ration-free Christmas until 1953.)
Bread and potatoes were rationed, and shortages of coal disrupted train schedules. Traditional roast turkey or goose was served on few dinner tables, and there was little available to fill children’s stockings hung on mantelpieces, except perhaps a cheap toy or doll, a penny whistle, and an apple or pear.
Yet, observed The Times, “People made the most of their first peacetime Christmas for six years.” Large congregations in churches and chapels gave thanks for the return of peace, while in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral, citizens prayed alongside Commonwealth servicemen and American soldiers and airmen, many of whom were spending their last yuletide in Britain.
At many Army camps and airbases around the country, as they had done since 1942, GIs played Santa Claus and hosted children at Christmas parties, generously doling out candy, chocolate, chewing gum, and even gifts they had received from home. The grueling war years were over, and despite the rationing and shortages of almost everything, Britons had reason to hope again.
Even their damp, fickle weather brightened. “The holiday was agreeably mild, dry, and green,” said The Times. “The maximum temperature of 43 degrees in London was 15 degrees higher than a year ago.”
Family gatherings were enlivened by the return of serving fathers, brothers, and sisters who had been absent for five or six years, but in many homes, Christmas 1945 was a time of sadness. Empty chairs testified to the loss of a soldier at Dunkirk or Caen, a sailor in the North Atlantic, an airman over Germany, or a merchant seaman on the Murmansk convoy run.
King George VI summed it up in his traditional Christmas afternoon radio speech to the nation. “There will be the vacant places of those who will never return, brave souls who gave their all to win peace for us,” he said. “We remember them with pride and with unfading love, praying that a greater peace than ours may now be theirs. . . . But many anxieties have been lifted from you and from your folk at home, and the coming of peace brings you nearer to your heart’s desire.”

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Black Mass Organizers Face Lawsuit Over Stolen Host

Oklahoma City, Okla., Aug 20, 2014 / 11:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Organizers of a satanic black mass slated to take place in Oklahoma City next month face a lawsuit on grounds that the consecrated Host used for the sacrilegious event…Continue Reading

Archbishop of Mosul: ‘I Have Lost My Diocese to Islam; You in the West Will Also Become Victims of Muslims’

At our pro-Israel rally on Sunday, leaders from across the world warned the crowd of the impending threat of Islam to America. One million Christians have been killed or have had to flee Iraq because of persecution by jihadists. But…Continue Reading

Pope Francis profoundly saddened by death of three relatives in traffic accident

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has learnt of the tragic death of three of his relatives in a traffic accident in Argentina and is “profoundly saddened.”  The Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope had…Continue Reading

The present, future, and quality of Catholic online education

An interview with Patrick Carmack, President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, about Catholic online education, technology, and Great Books August 15, 2014 07:48 EST Patrick S. J. Carmack, J.D. is the President of the Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program, and the founder…Continue Reading

Pope makes silent anti-abortion statement in South Korea

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Pope Francis has generally avoided hot-button “culture war” issues like abortion, arguing that the church’s doctrine on the sanctity of life is well-known and that he’d rather emphasize other aspects of church teaching. But he made a strong,…Continue Reading

Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue Slams Islamic Caliphate Crimes And Barbarism

Caliphate militants are responsible for inhumane actions like public executions, humiliation of women, and terror towards Christians, Yezidis and members of other religions. The Vatican body calls on Islamic religious leaders and governments to condemn these crimes and prosecute their…Continue Reading

Incoming Roman Catholic Springfield bishop on gay marriage: ‘God made us male and female’

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, will be installed as the ninth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, on Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral, with a public reception at…Continue Reading

Liberia: Nun dies of Ebola virus, two missionaries ill

A nun working in Liberia has died of the Ebola virus. Sister Chantal Pascaline worked with the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God. She died in Monrovia on Saturday. Two colleagues from the same order, Spanish priest Father Miguel…Continue Reading

Kurtz: New Catholic Teachers Shouldn’t Be Afraid

A group of about 750 Catholic school teachers, principals and Jefferson County school officials crammed into pews and chairs at St. Gabriel Parish in Fern Creek Friday morning for a mass service to ready the staff for the coming year.…Continue Reading

Send An Email Or Write A Letter To The Mayor Of Oklahoma City To Protest Black Satanic Mass At Civic Auditorium

Here is a copy of an email sent to the Mayor of Oklahoma City.  I think this man did a great job and we can use it as an example of what we can send.  Thank you to all of…Continue Reading

ISIS Closes In On Christians in Dramatic Overnight Development

Pope, Iraq’s Chaldean patriarch issue emergency appeals. ISIS, the radical Islamist group that forced Christians out of Mosul with the threat of death, has taken control of most of the villages of the Nineveh Plain, the northern area where Iraqi…Continue Reading

The IRS’s God Complex

The tax agency signs a secret pact with atheists, promising it will investigate 99 churches. Is the Internal Revenue Service a threat to religious liberty? As the IRS continues to come under well-aimed fire for harassing conservative groups, on Friday…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope On Korea Trip: Memory, Hope, Witness

pope509

2014-08-20 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) Memory, hope, witness: these are the three key terms in which Pope Francis placed his recent visit to Korea, when he reflected on the trip with pilgrims and tourists gathered in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on Wednesday for the weekly General Audience. After renewing his sentiments of gratitude and esteem for the bishops…Continue Reading

Pope Holds Press Conference On Flight Back From Korea

pope508

2014-08-18 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) From the possibility of the unification of the Koreas to the idea of “just war”, from the situation of persecuted minorities in Iraq to the Pope’s upcoming journey to Albania: on the flight back from Korea to Rome, Pope Francis answered questions put to him by journalists travelling with him aboard the papal plane. In…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Strange World Of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Review”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of 900 of the best quotes from The Birth Control Review, organized by topic, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +    +    + Introduction About 25 years ago, I bought a complete set…Continue Reading

Christians In The Mideast… Experience A Modern Calvary

By JOHN J. METZLER PARIS — The headlines seem from another era, if not century: that of Christian persecution by militant Islamists in the Middle East. Yet the modern political responses to this age-old conflict appear ambivalent about what’s emerged as an organized attempt by the militant Islamic State to impose a caliphate both on…Continue Reading

America’s Question: Cut Or Crash?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY On the last day of July, with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives serving as copilot, President Barack Obama flew the United States past a dubious fiscal landmark on our way toward what increasingly looks like a crash landing. That day, the federal debt hit $17,687,136,723,410.59 — an increase of roughly $7…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Loss Of Non-Negotiable Truths

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture, by Sheila Liaugminas (Ignatius Press, San Francisco: 2014), 158 pp., $17.95. Available through www.ignatius.com. To make sense of the moral chaos, divisive political issues, and culture wars precipitated by the sexual revolution of the 1960s, it is essential to begin at the…Continue Reading

Jesus And Jeremiah Speak To Our Times

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. The commentary below is reprinted with permission from…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Memorial Of St. Alphonsus Liguori… Marian Catechists Strive To Imitate The Mother Of God

By RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: Raymond Cardinal Burke is the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. He delivered the homily below on August 1 at the Marian Catechist Consecration Weekend, held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis. (The readings for August 1, the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori, were: Romans 8:1-4;…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… How Catholics End Up As Practical Protestants

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church is in the business of making Catholics, of proclaiming and calling all to the fullness of saving truth in Jesus Christ our Lord. Our mission to those who doubt or refuse some of our teachings is to call them to that fullness, whether Catholics already in our pews or Protestant brothers and sisters…Continue Reading

Is Mary The Mother Of God… Or Only The Mother Of Jesus?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 Responding to a common misconception among separated brethren and ill-informed Catholics: What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the divine Motherhood? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith in Jesus — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind. As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Over the years, we have tried to correct columns in the Boston Herald by Margery Eagan because they have greatly distorted Catholic teaching. Now we learn that the longtime Herald columnist has joined the anti-Catholic Boston Globe as a writer for its new Catholicism website, Crux. According to the press release from the Globe, Eagan will focus on…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius X

By CAROLE BRESLIN This month the Catholic Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the death of Pope St. Pius X who had so many things in common with the last few Popes. Like Pope Francis, he had a special affinity for the poor — especially since he came from a poor family. Like Pope John Paul II, who updated the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Maximilian Kolbe

By CAROLE BRESLIN During the Final Discourse, our Lord speaks to His disciples at the Last Supper about union with Christ, union with the Father, and the coming of the Holy Spirit with the theme of love woven throughout the night’s sharing. “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading