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Wow, John this is incredibly poignant and moving. I'm so grateful your grandfather documented and saved the song lyrics particularly. It makes the reality of what those experiences were so much closer.

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The notebook was a treasure. I knew about the Christmas truce. It's an often-told story in the UK around Christmas, often as an introduction to that song, and I can't hear the song now without thinking of it. So, to find those lyrics... Well, I'm normally pretty composed, but that got me. That song must have been special to my grandfather too.

As I updated this, I was put in mind of your recent essay on the silence in words of violence. Another word derived from arms is armistice, an agreement to stop fighting, a cessation of hostilities. Armistice Day was a celebration of peace.

The name was changed to Veteran's Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the UK and Commonwealth, during World War II. A celebration of war, then, more than of peace. After the war, the rebranding stuck.

And now, the UK government is imploring marchers for Palestine - for a ceasefire, for an armistice - to stay away from the Remembrance Day ceremony, and the police are threatening to use force. The rebranding is complete. The language of violence for sure.

My comment on your piece was short because I hadn't posted this yet! I've been holding space for it, thinking we would connect on it.

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That shift from Armistice to Veteran's and Remembrance is pretty telling--and the loopings of irony are just...mindshattering really. Language of violence--you're right, the rebranding is complete.

The different translation of Silent Night and that history of the Christmas truce--it does feel like it must have been part of his experience, and how haunting the arbitrariness of war can be--to play cards one day in an agreement of trust, only to take up arms (the word again) against one another the following day. I agree, that song must have been important and its history just becomes so real with finds like that. Really amazing, and so fantastic he left that record for his descendants to have.

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That it became Peaceful Night, celebrating the peace after four years of war. I'm seeing his platoon singing those words from that sheet, put together and typed up for the occasion, in their billet in a German farmhouse that Christmas Eve. That what he chose to leave was a record of the peace, not of the war. Or perhaps it's what my father chose to keep from what my grandfather left behind. Things I didn't know about them when they were alive. Words, Freya. Words matter.

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You're so right. I can't think of that song again now without thinking of Peaceful Night--and I'm so grateful for that. πŸ’œ

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Hundreds of thousands of people calling for a ceasefire in Gaza marched in London today. At least one banner read "105 years later armistice in Gaza". The only violence was from right wing counter protesters.

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absolutely incredible. it’s so hard to try and make any sense of such looped ironies.

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What treasures to find in your family's things. Thanks for sharing, John.

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Truly. Thanks Kim.

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