Game That Stopped WW1 May
Have Never Happened. So What?
It supposedly went on a century ago today, on the Flanders Fields of Belgium. English and German soldiers put down their weapons and deemed a friendly game of football more appropriate for Christmas than the roar of canons. And so they played, according to a soldier’s letter.
But alas, as inspirational it all may sound, there are doubts about the account, which is in line with our age of cynicism and inconsistent devotion to the truth. It’d have been great, but many are not sold on the idea that such a truce would’ve been even possible.
Then again, who cares? Yes, if it isn’t true, then ‘reenactments‘ of the episode are ridiculous, lessons to be learned about human piety are downright phony, and even the statue, ‘designed by a 10-year-old boy,’ is, well, besides the point, isn’t it? It really doesn’t matter.
The following year, both sides made it official: anyone attempting to get cozy with the enemy would be summarily shot. But the idea that we do have the power to replace hostilities, with a good ol’ game of soccer, or anything else, really, has survived and remains truthful.
We are celebrating a silly idea, for sure, as unrealistic as the thought that the WW1 was to ‘end all wars.’ It triggered the second one that followed it, and became template for all unnecessary cruelty and carnage that marked every conflict ever since. So what?
We still rather declare unwavering allegiance to what the tale is about: a little ballgame among soldiers, breaking the chain of command and defying the madness of generals and assassins at the top, made even more powerful, and poignant, because it may have never happened.