Peace on Earth

Sammy Baldwin nodded to where the Belgian soldier stood holding a shrieking infant and smiled. “Looks like a boy.”

The German lieutenant stood up, just as Abe Schmidt awoke, and they all went to see the newborn infant together. As they gazed down at the tiny bundle of humanity, the German lieutenant uncorked a bottle of Schnapps and they all shared a toast to the boy’s future. They all returned to sleep until the morning sun arose and spent most of the next day, Christmas of 1914, inside a barn in a small Belgium town, in the midst of the insanity of what happens to whole towns, cities, and even nations, when human beings use all their knowledge and power in an attempt to annihilate one another. Dozens of people still living in the small town, located barely a dozen miles from the German front, came to see the newborn child and to bring gifts, anything that they could spare, in tribute to a soldier’s brave wife, and now a new mother, and to a child who had been born despite the inhumanity and insanity that surrounded him. Someone brought a whole broiled pig and someone brought a pot-full of yams, and someone brought a pumpkin pie and the Oberleutnant had brought three kegs of Schnapps and the meal was fit for royalty. They didn’t leave until it was almost midnight, celebrating Christmas Day in what was left of the besieged town. The Belgian soldier wanted to stay with his wife and child but was talked into going back to the Front by Schmidt and Baldwin; the German lieutenant assuring him that he would personally see to it that his wife and child were cared for and left alone by all German soldiers. Before they left, they all sang Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and the men all basked in the warmth of peace on earth—on their share of the earth—on this Christmas Day—anyway.



Thus can the demigod Authority

Make us pay down for our offence by weight

The words of heaven.

—Shakespeare, Measure for Measure. Act I, sc. 2, 1. 124.

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