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Tag Archives: Peace

The Christmas Truce – WW1

This is one of my favorite stories from Christmas past. I am reposting this from the archives of November, 2005.

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WWI veteran, 109, was Scotland’s oldest man

LONDON, England (AP) — Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous “Christmas Truce” of World War I, died Monday at age 109.

More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the “eerie sound of silence” as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another December 25, 1914.

His parish priest, the Rev. Neil Gardner, said Anderson died in his sleep early Monday at a nursing home in Newtyle, Scotland. His death leaves fewer than 10 veterans of World War I alive in Britain.

Born June 25, 1896, Anderson was an 18-year-old soldier in the Black Watch regiment when British and German troops cautiously emerged from the trenches that Christmas Day in 1914. The enemies swapped cigarettes and tunic buttons, sang carols and even played soccer amid the mud, barbed wire and shell-holes of no man’s land.

The informal truce spread along much of the 500-mile Western Front, in some cases lasting for days — alarming army commanders who feared fraternization would sap the troops’ will to fight. The next year brought the start of vast battles of attrition that claimed 10 million lives, and the Christmas truce was never repeated.

“I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence,” Anderson told The Observer newspaper last year.

“All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machine-gun fire and distant German voices,” said Anderson, who was billeted in a French farmhouse behind the front lines.

“But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ‘Merry Christmas,’ even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.”

During the war, Anderson served briefly as batman — or valet — to Capt. Fergus Bowes-Lyon, brother of the Queen Mother Elizabeth. Bowes-Lyon was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

Prince Charles said he was “deeply saddened” by Anderson’s death and recalled meeting him several times. “We should not forget him, and the others of his generation who have given so much for their country,” the heir to the British throne said.

Anderson fought in France until 1916, when he was wounded by shrapnel. In 1998, he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor for his war service.

Anderson was Scotland’s oldest man. The country’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, said he “represented the generation of young Scots who fought in the First World War, and endured unimaginable horrors.”

“Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and we must never forget what they have given to us.”

Lt. Col. Roddy Riddell, regimental secretary of the Black Watch, said Anderson’s death marked “the end of the epoch.”

“The entire regiment is in mourning and we are all the sadder for his passing,” he said.

Gardner said Anderson “was quite philosophical about his wartime experiences.” Anderson himself said he tried to put them out of his mind.

“I think about all my friends who never made it home,” he said once. “But it’s too sad to think too much about it. Far too sad.”

In later years, Anderson spoke often of the guilt he felt over the loss of friends and comrades.

“I felt so guilty meeting the families of friends who were lost,” he told The Times newspaper this month. “They looked at me as if I should have been left in the mud of France instead of their loved one. I couldn’t blame them, they were grieving, and I still share their grief and bear that feeling of guilt.”

 

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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Christmas, History, Holiday, People, Politics, Vintage

 

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Common Courtesy

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Photography by Gracie – © All rights reserved

Small Gestures Make a Big Difference

We often feel that we don’t have the time or energy to extend ourselves to others with the small gestures that compose what we call common courtesy. It sometimes seems that this kind of social awareness belongs to the past, to smaller towns and slower times. Yet, when someone extends this kind of courtesy to us, we always feel touched. Someone who lends a helping hand when we are struggling with our groceries makes an impression because many people just walk right by. Even someone who simply makes the effort to look us in the eye, smile, and greet us properly when entering a room stands out of the crowd. It seems these people carry with them the elegance and grace of another time, and we are always thankful for our contact with them. Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference.

An essential component of common courtesy is awareness and common sense—looking outside yourself to see when someone needs help or acknowledgment. As a courteous person, you are aware that you are walking into a room full of people or that your waiter has arrived to take your order. Then, awareness leads to action. It is usually quite clear what needs to be done—open the door for the woman holding the baby, move your car up two feet so another person can park behind you, acknowledge your sister’s shy boyfriend with a smile and some conversation, apologize if you bump into someone. A third component is to give courtesy freely, without expecting anything in return. People may not even take notice, much less return the kindness, but you can take heart in the fact that you are creating the kind of world you want to live in with your actions.

When you are out in the world, remember to be aware of others, lend your hand when one is needed, and give this help without an ulterior motive. Through these small actions, you make this world a better place in which to live.

Daily OM

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2009 in Art, Daily OM, Inspirational, Nikon D60, Photography

 

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Veteran’s Day – Hope for Peace

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Veteran’s Day: Keeping Faith With The Original Intent of Armistice Day

WASHINGTON – November 10 – A veterans’ organization ask the nation to remember the original intent of Veterans Day.

The original Armistice Day ended World War I on November 11, 1918, but not before nearly 30 million soldiers had been killed or wounded, and over seven million taken prisoner.

Congress responded to a universal hope that this would never happen again and passed a resolution calling for “…exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding…inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches…with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.”  Congress later resolved November 11 was to be “…a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.”

Of the many veterans’ organizations in the U.S., one exists specifically to carry out the original purpose of Armistice Day, now celebrated as Veterans’ Day.  In word as well as action, Veterans For Peace, a national organization with 120 chapters, is dedicated to the cause of peace.

“Unfortunately Veterans Day has turned into a day to support war rather than a day to reflect on the horrors of war and the need to work for peace,” said Veterans For peace Executive Director Michael McPhearson. “Veterans For Peace has over 120 chapters around the country, many of whom will be commemorating veterans day by marching in traditional parades, conducting solemn ceremonies and vigils to give an alternative view about war and the meaning of the day,” McPhearson went on to say.

“Our statement of purpose is clear and direct when it says we intend to ‘abolish war as an instrument of national policy.’  We want this generation of veterans to be the last,” said VFP president Elliott Adams.

The former Army paratrooper and Viet Nam veteran added, “We not only speak out for peace, our organization works towards it every single day. We will continue to do so and in fact increase our efforts as VFP seeks to raise awareness of the human and monetary cost of war in the face of the global economic crisis.”

Please visit www.veteransforpeace.org to learn more about VFP Veterans Day activities.

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Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and includes veterans of all eras and wars from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts cold or hot.  It has participated in every major demonstration against the war in Iraq.  Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent.  VFP is represented at the UN as an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
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Posted by on November 11, 2008 in Art, Photography

 

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Finding Peace Within

hmm……….. smile now!, originally uploaded by *Gracie.

Photography by Gracie – © All rights reserved

A Full Embrace Excluding Nothing

Most people agree that a more peaceful world would be an ideal situation for all living creatures. However, we often seem stumped as to how to bring this ideal situation into being. If we are to have true peace in this world, each one of us must find it in ourselves first. If we don’t like ourselves, for example, we probably won’t like those around us. If we are in a constant state of inner conflict, then we will probably manifest conflict in the world. If we have fighting within our families, there can be no peace in the world. We must shine the light of inquiry on our internal struggles, because this is the only place we can really create change.

When we initiate the process of looking inside ourselves for the meaning of peace, we will begin to understand why it has always been so difficult to come by. This in itself will enable us to be compassionate toward the many people in the world who find themselves caught up in conflicts both personal and universal. We may have an experience of peace that we can call up in ourselves to remind us of what we want to create, but if we are human we will also feel the pull in the opposite direction and desire to defend ourselves, to keep what we feel belongs to us, to protect our loved ones and our cherished ideals, and the anger we feel when threatened. This awareness is important because we cannot truly know peace until we understand the many tendencies and passions that threaten our ability to find it. Peace necessarily includes, even as it transcends, all of our primal energy, much of which has been expressed in ways that contradict peace.

Being at peace with ourselves is not about denying or rejecting any part of ourselves. On the contrary, in order to be at peace we must be willing and able to hold ourselves, in all our complexity, in a full embrace that excludes nothing. This is perhaps the most difficult part for many of us, because we want so much to disown the negative aspects of our humanity. Ironically, though, true peace begins with a willingness to take responsibility for our humanity so that we might ultimately transform it in the light of our love.

Daily OM

 

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Power Of Peace

Before the storms – 2, originally uploaded by *Gracie.
Photography by Gracie – © All rights reserved

Philosophy Of Gandhi

Power has many faces. Some forms of power are abrupt, forceful and potentially harmful. Yet, there is another kind of power that is constant, unyielding but also loving and peaceful. Mahatma Gandhi, the famed leader of the nonviolence movement in India, championed the belief that nonviolence is the law for all humanity and that it takes greater strength to use peaceful resistance to achieve your ends than to resort to brute force. According to Ghandi: “Power rightly exercised must sit light as a flower, no one should feel the weight of it.” Calling himself a “practical idealist,” he believed in facing injustice in the world by having the courage to love and show “ahimsa”, selflessness, which he wrote brought “delight” to his life. Following Gandhi, we can learn to recognize the subtle power of nonviolence to bring a sense of peace to our lives and the lives of others.

Born in India, on October 2,1869 as Mohandas Gandhi, he searched spiritually for many years, eventually earning the name Mahatama, meaning “great soul.” While living in South Africa, he studied the works of many religions as well as the literary works of writers such as Tolstoy and Thoreau, which led him to forgo the pursuit of wealth for a life of self-improvement. It was also at that time that he began to experience discrimination and to react to it by organizing peaceful marches, community meetings and boycotts, which often led to his arrest. After returning to India, he created a highly successful system of nonviolent protest to win independence from the British. Using fasting, prayer and a stubborn resolve not to hate the British, his legacy has made a lasting impression on people all over the world. Gandhi believed that, “Hate is the subtlest form of violence. We cannot be really nonviolent and yet have hate in us.”

For Gandhi, the ultimate end of nonviolence was an enlightened world, in which people would naturally care for one another, without needing to be governed. But, he also realized that this utopian vision was not yet a reality. Therefore, he believed strongly that people should have the courage to defend their visions, but when at all possible, they should do so without causing pain to anyone else. He added that by using the principles of nonviolence, the weak would grow stronger. To Gandhi, it was integral that people always speak their truth but he also believed that, “One should speak the truth in gentle language.”

Gandhi’s remarkable legacy continues to affect huge numbers of people today. While his beliefs have profound universal applications, he also lived these ideals privately. The true essence of nonviolence begins with the way we conduct our private lives and the way we feel about other human beings. As Gandhi taught, we can be powerful and loving. We can speak our personal truth in a way that spreads enlightenment.

Daily OM

 

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“An “Eye for an Eye” makes the whole world blind”

“An “Eye for an Eye” makes the whole world blind”

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2007 in Art, Current Events, Inspirational, Politics

 

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Song of a Dream!

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Photography by Gracie – © All rights reserved

Song of a Dream

by Sarojini Naidu

Once in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

Lone in the light of that magical grove,
I felt the stars of the spirits of Love
Gather and gleam round my delicate youth,
And I heard the song of the spirits of Truth;
To quench my longing I bent me low
By the streams of the spirits of Peace that flow
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

 

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