(copyright November 10, 2009)
Copyright 2009/2010 by Cullens Online - This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
December of 1944
The war was in full force and we were completely surrounded and severely out numbered by the German army. Our boys dug in deep in the frozen, snow covered ground and held position as attack after attack rained down on them from mortars and gunfire. I didn't have as much to fear as the others as I was 'different'. We were further back from the front lines with the aid station. The battle raged on for days and nights. The noise never stopped. I had to learn to block it out or risk losing my mind. I had never felt so violated in all my existence. I wrote letter after letter home, thinking of Edward and Esme waiting for my return. Hoping that each day I would be greeted with the news of the war's end. It didn't happen. I was greeted only with more casualties.

December 24, 1944
Jeep after Jeep brought a steady flow of wounded soldiers to us. Most were stabilized and sent to the field hospital, some weren't as lucky and lost their lives right there on the spot. Here it was Christmas Eve and we were suffering casualties at an alarming rate. In each soldier's face I saw Edward. At first it was alarming but after a while it became obvious to to me that I saw him in each of these boys because they had a family back home who were sitting, praying and desperate for his return. How would I feel, knowing that my son, my only son, was out in the middle of no where, fighting a battle on foreign soil completely out of touch except by occasional letter. I thank God every day that he will forever be 17, too young for battle, too young to be scarred by all of this that I see every day.
Copyright 2009/2010 by Cullens Online - This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
Christmas Eve started just like every day here had since 16th December when we first arrived. The other battles had been hell, but this one....this ONE was different. There was no let up. We were surrounded, the noise was never ending and the casualties were incredible. It didn't matter that it was Christmas Eve.
Another Jeep brought in 2 more wounded. One was a medic. I stared down into his face, unwrapping the makeshift bandages, smiling with hope to distract him from the mortal wound that tore a hole straight through him. I held his hand as he passed from this world and felt a pang of pain inside of me as his hand went limp. It was then, at that point that I got angry. I stood up, picked up the medic's bag , slung it over my shoulder and walked briskly to the Captain.
"I am going back with the Jeep. They need medical assistance on the front lines." He didn't say anything, I think the noise, sleep deprivation and the constant influx of wounded men had gotten to him. He stared at me blankly as I turned and walked away.
The driver took me as far as he could and stopped. He took off his hat, rubbed his forehead, shook his head and said, "I dunno what you're thinkin', wantin' to walk in there. Most of 'em would give anythin' to be back where you was." I smiled, patted him on the shoulder and walked into the trees.

I made it through the trees and spotted two foxholes. I called out a familiar password and was waved over by the Sergeant. "You're a sight for sore eyes, son. We are in desperate need of morphine." I shook my head, knowing full well that the bag I was carrying held nothing but bandages, sulfa powder and a few random ointments.
He noticed my insignia and instantly jumped to attention and saluted me. "Forgive me Sir" he said, visibly shaken.
"No need for salutes, Sergeant."
"Sir? May I ask why you're out here?" he said, quietly.
I looked at him, thought for a moment and whispered, " I don't know." and started, slowly, digging myself a foxhole.

I finished digging in about 3 hours time. It was dark and the sounds of ammunition, mortars and men screaming in pain still filled the air.
"If you give yourself a moment to listen, you'll go insane." A voice said quietly behind me.
I didn't turn around.
"I fill my head with the sound of my wife's voice." I said, settling low into the fox hole, not making eye contact. He shimmied into the foxhole and offered me a cigarette.
I shook my head, "No thank you."
"Name's Braden, John Braden" he extended his hand. I nodded cordially and shook his hand, "Carlisle Cullen."
A spray of bullets blew 10 feet above us. We both instinctively ducked, covering our heads. His voice shaky, he started talking, "My foxhole is over there", he pointed with his gloved hand. I nodded, listening as if I had any other choice.
"I cant go back there." he whispered, staring at the ground.
I saw he was getting visibly upset.
"You don't have to. There's plenty of room here." I touched his arm and he startled.
"Hey.. hey.. relax. It's ok." I said calmly
Flares shot up from the German side and shed light over us. I saw his face. He was all of 18 years old, IF that. If I had to wager a bet, I'd say he wasn't a day over 16.
I bit my lip not to speak, I saw in him in that brief few seconds of light, my son. I blinked the image out of my head and replaced it with Esme's smiling face. I closed my eyes tightly, remembering her in her pink dress, her hair perfectly in place, her red lips, golden eyes and her arms reaching for me. My moment was shattered as the ground rocked with an explosion that showered us with mud, rocks and snow. The screaming was immense. I quickly scrambled out of the foxhole, looking for John. There was nothing. The foxhole suffered a direct hit from a mortar and he was simply gone. My mind was all hazy, I was disoriented and confused.

As I stumbled from the foxhole, silence filled the air and a single voice from the enemy position rang out singing "Silent Night," in German. Soon more voices chimed in from the Germans. Suddenly I stood up and started in English. Before long most of us were singing along with the Germans. It lasted only about 5 or 10 minutes and a few minutes later we were back at each other, with guns blazing.
This incident has stayed in my memory all these years and when I hear Silent Night, I remember John, the boy who never even had a chance.
It was a cold, bitter, dark night and just around midnight, surprisingly quiet. In the middle of the bloodiest battle of WW2 there was Peace on Earth for a few minutes.
(copyright November 10, 2009)

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