Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Truce

There's been local buzz about the 100 year anniversary of the first Christmas of World War I and the unofficial Christmas Truce that occured.  England and Germany thought the war, which started in 1914, would be over by Christmas. It wasn't, by a long shot. When Christmas did show up, a special moment occurred in parts of the trench lines in eastern France. Both sides of the war worshiped the same God. Kansas City claims title to the National World War I Museum (theworldwar.org). Wilma and I took the chance to visit and learn what happened for the truce, specifically, but in general what was World War I all about. This place is top notch! We got there late on Saturday and could only spend two hours before closing time. We just had to drive the 60 miles back the next day to finish the rest and I wanted some sketch time. Ate lunch there, too. The Trench Stew was tasty (carrots, turnips and corn beef). It really was. They modified the recipe a little by also adding potatoes and peas. I can see where meal time would be a welcome time after trudging through muddy tranches all day, dodging artillery shrapnel and bullets. This was an ugly conflict.

My favorite exhibit is there until February 28. The French artist Raymond Fontanet (a.k.a. Renefer) went into the military at age 38 to help defend his country, which was being invaded by Germany. He worked for four years with the Combat Engineering group. Their goal is to plan the battlefield in advance of the battle. Renefer's job was to draw the topology of the pending battlefield so the group could design the communications (run phone lines) and other infrastructure and battle planning. He was then to sketch the war as he experienced it. In addition to his official duties he would sketch for his young daughter to show her what her dad's life is now. The exhibit had no original artwork but did have a multi-banner presentation with reproductions and with translations into English. I admire his ability to describe his environment with his sketches. That's what we do today in this journaling world.

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