My grandfather fought in WWI during the latter stages of the war. "The war to end all wars" as it was commonly referred to, was a precursor to WWII. Grandpa said he told his sargent major that this war would be fought again with the Germans because of the terms of surrender imposed upon them. I don't know if Grandpa actually every said that. But, if he did, he was right about it just as he was right about so many other things in life. Grandpa was among a handful of U.S. troops who could actually read and write during WWI. Grandpa was in the U.S. Marine Corp. As a young 18 year old corporal, he was sent to fight. His first fighting took place in the famed Battle of Belleau Wood. Grandpa said it should have been plural since there were many "battles" of Belleau Wood. But, on June 1st, 1918, as a member of the 5th Marines Regiment, he was going to be sent into battle to help stop a German advancement past French lines. Prior to this battle, men were gathered together for prayer by an Army Chaplin. Grandpa, who loved to write just like his grandson does today, jotted down this prayer. Even though this prayer was in June, my Grandpa always referred to it as the "Christmas Prayer for Soldiers." He never explained why. Here now is that prayer from 95 years ago from the Army Chaplin.
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today before this great fight against an entrenched enemy. I pray that you will shield these sons of freedom today from arrows of fire and brimstone. Protect them, Lord, touch them in the heat of battle, heal their wounds, give them courage to carry the fight. And, if it be Lord God that you must bring some of your children home today, I pray that you make their burden light, their pain slight and their journey quick. Please, Lord, wherever there is terror this day, that you give these men the courage to persevere, to do your work. Today Lord, give comfort to those who are breathing their last, who hurt and feel faint, and love those who cannot lift their weapon in anger. Love them, nurture them in your Heavenly Mansion. As you say in your word, Psalms 91, He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
Give these brave lads that same courage and conviction that your Word is true and near to their hearts. May it give them peace as they go forth this day into battle. On Your word, we find our foundation. In Jesus name we pray, Amen."
You may be asking, how did he write down all this verbatim. Grandpa had a quick wit and even quicker mind. He could meet someone one day and remember everything he knew about him 10 years later. He was like that until the last couple of years of his life. He died at age 96 in 1996. He still had a full head of hair and all his teeth when he died. He never explained why he called this the Christmas Prayer other than the fact he always read it on Christmas Day. Perhaps it was meant for those "doughboys" who died so many years ago. Merry Christmas to everyone!