Wednesday 17th September 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:

Breaking . . . Cardinal Burke – Fr Z

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ll post this. I do not like the fact that Sandro Magister posted in this way, however.  I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now.  The optimist…Continue Reading

Catholic Education Honor Roll Announced

Today, The Cardinal Newman Society released the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence. Since 2004 the Honor Roll has celebrated quality Catholic education throughout the United States. Honor Roll schools receiving…Continue Reading

Hermeneutic of Continuity: Pope Benedict XVI’s 10 Step Guide to Vatican II

pope200

In 2005 His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a Christmas address to the Roman Curia that sparked a “Holy Revolution.” The good pontiff’s comments were received as “epoch-making” by many of those faithful to Sacred Tradition.1 At the heart of…Continue Reading

Satanists Sell Out Controversial Oklahoma ‘Black Mass’ Event, Will Stage Exorcism Despite Christian Protests

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will…Continue Reading

Catholic League Bowing Out Of New York’s St. Patrick’s Parade

NEW YORK –  The Catholic League says it will sit out next year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York because parade organizers aren’t letting an anti-abortion Catholic group march. Catholic League head Bill Donohue said Thursday that his organization…Continue Reading

Catholic Cardinal McCarrick Embraces Islam

Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick offered Islamic religious phrases and insisted that Islam shares foundational rules with Christianity, during a Sept. 10 press conference in D.C. “In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate,” McCarrick said as he introduced himself…Continue Reading

MURDER OF CATHOLIC NUNS SHOCKS WORLD

The triple murder of three elderly Italian religious sisters in Burundi has their religious family and the local community reeling. The Italian Foreign Ministry has confirmed Monday’s death of a third missionary, Sister Bernadette Boggian, who wasdecapitated, according to a…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

by Hon. Bob Marshall Sept. 8, 2014 New York’s Cardinal Dolan, appointed as Grand Marshal of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, praised the decision to allow an openly gay group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “I have…Continue Reading

Founder: Catholic Studies programs help colleges fulfill call to faithfulness

St. Paul, Minn., Sep 8, 2014 / 06:03 pm (CNA).- University-level Catholic Studies programs are an essential response to the increasingly fragmented college experience, said the man who founded the first such program 20 years ago. “At the heart of…Continue Reading

A ‘dereliction of duty’? Catholics react to Cardinal Dolan’s role in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s decision to act as grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade despite its decision to allow an openly homosexual organization to participate has drawn strong criticism from Catholic writers and outrage from many…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Caves

notredame

The following comes from an Aug. 30 email from the Sycamore Trust, “alumni protecting Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.” Notre Dame is complying with the abortifacient/contraceptive mandate in renewing its student health insurance program for 2014-15. Aetna, the insurer, will now provide students with…Continue Reading

Vatican’s Cardinal Burke dismantles ‘Who am I to judge?’

burk

Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court – the Apostolic Signatura – has given a lengthy televised interview in which he decisively rectifies the false notions about Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge” quote that has been…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 Tells Catholics To Go Forth With The Gospel Message

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis encouraged Catholics go forth and bring the Gospel message to the world and to their communities. Speaking on Wednesday during his General the Pope spoke of the universal and apostolic nature of the Catholic Church. He explained that the word catholic means that she is universal, something that she shows by speaking all languages, which –…Continue Reading

Pope And Santa Marta: Closeness And Compassion

pope525

(Vatican Radio) Beautiful homilies are useless if you are not close to the people, if you do not suffer with the people and do not give hope, they are vanity: This was Pope Francis’ reflection Tuesday morning during Mass in Santa Marta, the day on which the Church remembers the Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, bishop martyrs. The Gospel of…Continue Reading

One Thing Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Doesn’t Explain About Benghazi

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY In her memoir, Hard Choices, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton included a chapter on the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. But she failed to specifically explain why Ambassador Chris Stevens was there that day. “U.S. ambassadors are not required to consult or…Continue Reading

Violence Begets Violence

By REY FLORES Is it me or is violence becoming more prevalent across our society? Is it because most people have a cell phone nowadays with a camera and are able to share these ever-increasing acts of violence across cyberspace on social media? Perhaps it’s a little of both, but it’s definitely a lot more…Continue Reading

Birth Statistics Show Collapse Of The Family

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column; all rights reserved.) + + + If you count a generation as spanning 20 years, then approximately 36 percent of the American generation born from 1993 through 2012 — which has begun turning 21…Continue Reading

Deacon Describes Last Hours… Convicted Killer In Prolonged Execution Was Baptized

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Although most news attention focused on the nearly two hours it took for a convicted Arizona double murderer to die during the execution by lethal injection in July, he had been baptized a Catholic not long before, according to a deacon who helped Joseph Wood prepare for death. Ed Sheffer,…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… A “Better Life Index” That Ignores What Makes For A Better Life

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . “And Who Is My Neighbor?” The Embryo And The ALS patient

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 20 bewails his isolation as a result of the scorn of nonbelievers: “The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” He describes his temptation to throw in the towel as a prophet tasked by God with a message for mankind: “I say to myself,…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or . . . Supernatural? Celibacy In The Teachings Of St. Paul

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 St. Paul was not one of the twelve, but he is known as “the Apostle,” certainly because of the richness of his apostolic zeal in teaching, possibly more than all the other apostles put together. He was educated in the faith by Jesus Himself, and after that intense training, he became as zealous…Continue Reading

The Implications Of Faith In One God

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks, we have reflected on but an infinitesimal fraction of all that the faithful affirm when they reverently and genuinely say the first four [or five] words contained in the Creeds of the Church: “I believe in [one] God.” In saying these words with heartfelt sincerity, one is acknowledging his belief in who…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I have recently read a book entitled Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll. I was taken aback by its premise and wonder about its veracity. Do you have an opinion on the book? — E.J.S., New Jersey. A. You have good reason to wonder about the veracity of Constantine’s Sword (and the movie based on the book) since its author,…Continue Reading

Magnify The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9 Phil. 1:20c-24, 27a Matt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, Isaiah cries out to all the people that they are to seek the Lord while He may be found. This becomes extremely important to us because Scripture speaks of the possibility of the Lord coming to…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Mother Teresa Of Calcutta

By CAROLE BRESLIN After returning from a visit to Mother Teresa of Calcutta and giving a retreat to her Missionaries of Charity there, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, told a class of lay faithful, “Americans are living in a dream world.” He spoke of the thousands of people dying on the streets of Calcutta where Mother had begun her work…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