Tuesday 24th May 2016

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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Serving LGBT Students in Catholic Schools

April 28, 2016, at 9:03 AM  |  By Dan Guernsey  |  Opinion How do Catholic schools best serve students who struggle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria (popularly called “transgendered”)? What should a school’s policies prescribe in order to prevent…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 su
bscribe 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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

Pope Francis: Christians live God’s love with joy, astonishment

(Vatican Radio) No Christian can exist without joy: that’s what Pope Francis said in his Homily at Mass Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse. The Pope stressed that even through life’s difficulties, the Christian knows he can trust in Jesus and find hope. The Pope also reminded the faithful they should not allow riches to dominate their lives because they ultimately lead to sadness. Christians live in joy and amazement because…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: The Holy Trinity, where there is love there is God

(Vatican Radio) “The feast of the Holy Trinity invites us to engage in the daily events to be the leaven of communion, of consolation and of mercy.” Those were Pope Francis’ words during his Angelus address on a sunny Trinity Sunday from his studio above St Peter’s Square. Drawing inspiration from the Gospel of St. John, the Pope said that Jesus knew how to be close to the realization of the Father’s plan, which will…Continue Reading

Pope emeritus: Third Secret of Fatima was released in full

popeben

(Vatican Radio) Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said he never told anyone the publication of the “Third Secret of Fatima” in the year 2000 was incomplete, and confirmed the document was published in its totality. A Communiqué was published Saturday by the Holy See Press Office on various articles regarding the “Third Secret of Fatima.” “ Several articles have appeared recently, including declarations attributed to Professor Ingo Dollinger according to which Cardinal Ratzinger, after the…Continue Reading

Pope: Understanding for sinners, no negotiating the truth

(Vatican Radio) Announcing the word of God should never be dissociated from the understanding of human weakness. That was Pope Francis’ message during the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Commenting on the Gospel passage in which Christ speaks with the Pharisees about adultery, he said the Lord overcomes the human vision which would reduce the vision of God to a casuistic equation. The Gospel, the Pope said, is full of examples of the…Continue Reading

Pope: the rich who exploit the poor are bloodsuckers

(Vatican Radio) Exploiting the working people to enrich oneself is like sucking blood; it’s a mortal sin. That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. The rich who suck the blood of the poor The day’s first reading, taken from the Letter of Saint James, is a forceful warning to the rich who accumulate wealth by exploiting the people. “Riches in themselves are good,” the Pope explained,…Continue Reading

Eastern Orthodoxy And The Particular Judgment

By JAMES LIKOUDIS In previous articles (The Wanderer, July 3, 2014; June 25, 2015), it was observed that: “Perhaps to the surprise of some Catholic ecumenists, Catholic doctrine regarding the Particular Judgment remains obscure, confused, or even denied among the Eastern Orthodox. They have no clear official teaching that the just go to Heaven immediately…Continue Reading

Obama To Visit The Land Of State-Owned Enterprises

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.) + + + President Barack Obama will visit Vietnam, which his own State Department last month certified is still controlled — four decades after the fall of Saigon — by the Communist Party.…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Why Should Pro-Lifers Be Concerned About Dissent?”

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 the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +…Continue Reading

Sharpening The Mind With Words

By DONALD DeMARCO My biology teacher of many moons ago took perverse delight in terrorizing his students while they were taking an exam. “Plagiarism,” he would bellow, “is arousing the suspicion of the proctor.” He enjoyed the sound of his own voice and repeated this warning many times. He intended it to be more intimidating…Continue Reading

Jesuit Higher Education

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK Jesuit universities have been the topic of criticism several times in this column over the years. We don’t apologize for that. Odds are that when you hear about a performance of The Vagina Monologues, an honorary degree being awarded to a pro-abortion politician, or campus activities led by LGBTQ groups, it…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Spiritual Exercises

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The way the human body physically works can teach us something about virtue and the way God’s grace works spiritually for each of us: We must use it to grow it. As I reminded our Life Teens and their families at Mass recently, if they slack off on physical exercise during the summer, come fall…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 1 After investigating the Inquisition, now we take a good look at the greatest marvel on this side of eternity: the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. To rule a country is not an easy job. That is why no head of state these days can…Continue Reading

The Seven Sacraments — Categories And Effects

By DON FIER Each of the seven sacraments, according to the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church, was personally instituted by Christ during His visible stay on Earth. As we saw last week, the details of institution for some — even the precise words for administration — are taken directly from Scripture. However, as Christoph Cardinal Schönborn states in Living…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What is the official standing of Fr. Nicholas Gruner, who believed that the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary had not been done properly? He was known as “the Fatima priest,” but I always thought that title belonged to Fr. Robert Fox. — M.S., Kentucky. A. Fr. Gruner died at the age of 72 on April…Continue Reading

Brought Together In The One Sacrifice

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER The Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR C) Readings: Gen. 14:18-20 1 Cor. 11:23-26 Luke 9:11b-17 In the first reading today we hear about Melchizedek who is the Priest of God Most High and the King of Salem. The town of Salem became known as Jerusalem after Abraham brought Isaac to that place in obedience to the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading