The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 109

1918-2018 In The Silence by John C Mannone Along the Western Front: Saint-Yvon, Ypres (Belgium) Christmas Eve 1 91 4 Englishmen and Germans left their trenches, marched into the woods. They must have heard the Pope pray that the guns may fall silent$on the night angels sang. And so they stopped the fighting, stopped the killing. One remembers the silence, the eerie sound of silence in that No Man’s Land : trees shattered and strewn; ground frozen, shelled & bombed leaving a wilderness to bloom among the tattered scatterings of uniforms. But a tall pine tree still stood there, where men placed candles with their waxy light on its boughs. Fatigued yet hopeful, soldiers exchanged cigarettes and cognac for black bread and ham; swapped buttons and hats. Out of the fog, an angel they saw that haloed the treetop, requested a song. The men knelt, then sang that song, Silent Night , all the day long and all the night long. They sang until their throats wore sore for peace. For a moment, the hissing, cracking, whining bullets; machine gun fire; and distant voices… all dead in the silence of the morning. But the mournful cries of guns filled the valley once again early in the afternoon. 109