Skip to main content

tv   Christmas time on the Battlefield  CSPAN  December 25, 2014 9:26pm-10:21pm EST

9:26 pm
steele and tracy reese. thank you. [ applause ] join american history tv tonight on the civil war as historians and authors talk about factors that impacted lincoln's re-election campaign in 1864. they explore lincoln's expansion of presidential war powers, his relationship with both democratic and republican newspapers, and the impact of the soldiers' vote. that's tonight at 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. eastern time here on c-span3's american history tv. coming up next on american history tv, a look at christmas during war time with stanley weintraub, professor emeritus at penn state university. he's the author of "pearl harbor at christmas." we'll hear about how president
9:27 pm
roosevelt and british prime minister winston churchill navigated that first christmas after america entered world war ie and we'll hear about how american soldiers marked christmas from the revolutionary war through the korean war. ohio's franciscan university host this event. it's about an hour. >> good evening, all, it's a pleasure for me to be here this evening and to point out this is such a fine that the president of academic affairs showed up. that's a good thing. along with other distinguished professors. stanley weintraub finished up his years at penn state as the evan pugh professor of arts and humanities. he joined the department of english september 1st of 1956. i think i was in fourth grade. he was an instructor, he became
9:28 pm
a full professor in 1965. a research professor in 1970. and the ebben pugh professor in 1976. dr. weintraub's area of specialization include victorian and early 20th century literature, biography and cultural history and, of course, 19th and 20th century drama. on the table you see many of his books. some of which were devoted to what our topic is tonight, wartime christmases. during his 43 years at penn state, dr. weintraub published 45 books. and he never stopped when he retired. nobody knows for sure now how many he's published, but i think it's up to 60 or thereabouts. on and on. ladies and gentlemen, i would like to present to you my
9:29 pm
mentor, who said -- responded to me when i said, stanley, what do you want to be after i got my ph.d. from bowling green, and he said words. and i tried my best to give them to him. i present to you one of the dearest friends and mentors i've ever had. nobody does this alone. this one's mine. stanley. [ applause ] >> thank you, bob. i'm glad to see so many people escaped from the rain inside here. i hope that's not the only reason you're here, but it is drier inside. my topic, wartime christmases, is something that came upon me accidentally. i hadn't expected to write about
9:30 pm
the subject or to talk about it. i did spend two christmases in kree during the korean war, and they were not very exciting christmases. hardly anybody knew it was christmas until we turned on tokyo army radio and heard recordings like "i saw mommy kissing santa claus," which was not very good for morale. [ laughter ] yeah. i forgot mostly about christmas and war although i read about war from early on. my first biography dealt with lawrence of arabia that came out just as the movie with peter o'toole came out. and that was a lucky break because people had suddenly heard of me. and it made it easier to write other books. in the 1980s, i began work on a
9:31 pm
book on the end of world war i on the period of the armistice november 11, 1918. and in the process of doing that research -- this is after many previous books -- i discovered that there had been a truce and a cessation of shooting in the christmas period of 1914, the first year of world war i. i was fascinated by the idea that the war might have stopped for good earlier. why hadn't it? and was this really a truce? i went back to history books, not all of them are very accurate about this period. in fact, a number of historians who even earned knighthoods in england didn't even mention the christmas truce in the index of their books. it didn't happen.
9:32 pm
it was a myth. then i came upon a reference to the fact that soldiers from both sides, germans, british, french played football between the trenches in no man's land. no man's land, for those of you who are not involved in wartime studies, is the period between the two sides that is fought over. a period that no man wants to be in. did they play football? football, after all, is soccer in american terms. i discovered from what i read that that was a myth. it didn't really happen. after all, who could have played football in no man's land which was full of shell holes and dead bodies, and dead bodies, truly, because it was an area that you could not go into to retrieve the wounded or the dead without being shot at.
9:33 pm
and so bodies literally littered no man's land. well, i went ahead anyway and checked further and found that there was a truce. it did happen. and while rodelle, my wife and i, were working on it, a book came out in england. a picture book of a television show about the christmas truce. pictures had been found in the imperial war museum of the british and the germans fraternizing in no man's land. and the picture book made it evident that there really was such a thing, but it didn't go into the details about what really had happened in the cases of other troops. were the french involved? were the germans involved? were there only scotsman involved in the british forces
9:34 pm
and so on? and i found much of interest to go back to. rodelle and i went back to england every summer looking up material. we went to the british newspaper library in north london in collindale. the library no longer exists. it was there at the time. it contained all the newspapers that had been salvaged from the blitz. the library had been bombed during world war ii, and many files of newspapers had been destroyed. but the british painstakingly covered all of england and wales and scotland and ireland and found files of newspapers to replace many that they had been missing. and we went through those papers figuring that if there would be any news about the christmas truce, it would appear in those
9:35 pm
newspapers because there wasn't any censorship yet. although there wasn't any wartime censorship, war correspondents weren't allowed at the front lines. so in effect there was a kind of tass it censorship. where did we find information? we found it in places like the letters to the editor. strange place to do research, but what happened is that soldier s in the letter of editors. strange place to do research but what happened is that soldiers involved in the truce wrote home. it wasn't very far from home. it took perhaps four or five days or a week for the letters to get home. they wrote home and said, mom and dad or dear wife, you won't believe what just happened to us. it was like a waking dream, and they went on to describe how the truce had begun and how it lasted and what friends they had made from the other side and how it all began.
9:36 pm
it began in a couple of unexpected ways. one of the ways -- i brought a sample here and you're welcome to look at it later. this is a brass box. it says christmas 1914. it was sent by the british to their troops in flanders and in france with chocolates or candy or tobacco or other things for christmas. and this was to lift morale. the germans discovered that the british were going to do this and so they rushed out their own boxes, wooden boxes in this case, filled with what would be typical of german gifts for christmas, snacks, cigars, sausages, something typically german. the result was that each side had something to swap.
9:37 pm
they could trade christmas gifts. in addition, one of the british newspapers had big ads before christmas saying, send plum puddings to your loved ones at christmas. the troops got so many plum puddings they didn't know what to do with them all. and they were very happy to swap them for anything the germans were willing to swap them for. the germans on the other side of the line had actually started the christmas truce because what had happened is that germany was an easier route to bring christmas trees to the front lines. they didn't have to cross the english channel. it was easy for them by land. and the tradition in germany, which went back a couple of hundred years, was to have tabletop fir trees.
9:38 pm
not big fir trees with all kinds of gaudy stuff on them as we have in this country, but tabletop trees so that each child in the family would have his or her own tree and under it you would put gifts. those tabletop trees, perhaps 30 inches high, not even a yard high in some cases, were shipped out by the tens of thousands to the front lines. and the germans took their chances and erected them on the front of their trenches. and they came already with candles attached. that is, the germans were very efficient about this. they didn't just send trees. they sent trees with candles attached. and the germans erected them on the bulwarks of their trenches and lit them. and the british, who were only a few hundred yards away, shot at them.
9:39 pm
and the germans patiently re-erected them. and before long the british got curious, what in the world are we shooting at? and they crawled out into no-man's land looking for the other side and what it was that was all lit up. and they discovered the christmas trees, and they discovered the germans who had crawled out from their side to meet them. and the two sides agreed that, yes, it was christmas. they were celebrating christmas. why don't they do so in daylight? this was christmas eve. why don't they do it in daylight? why don't they get together? they could get together and they could swap gifts because they all had lots of gifts and the british had all of these plum puddings besides. the result was that the next morning at dawn the british and the germans crawled out to no-man's land and began clearing
9:40 pm
the area of shell holes and dragging out the corpses from no-man's land for burial. and the two sides quite reverently with chaplains attending buried the dead. and after they buried the dead and filled in the shell holes, they had a field to play football. the only problem is they didn't have a football. and they didn't have any of the gear that goes with soccer or european football, but they improvised. anything they could. and so, they made improvised balls. they made goals. and they actually had football played between the trenches. and in my book "silent night," which is still in paperback, i have one chapter just called "football" about the games played between the lines.
9:41 pm
and people didn't believe that this actually had happened. but we went to the imperial war museum in london which has the records of all of the units that survived. the units on both sides were supposed to prepare what they called daily diaries, what was going on in your unit for the day. and we found in the daily diaries the scores of the games. they really did happen. many of the scores were very low like 3-2. but that's typical of soccer. typical of european football. and the germans won most of them. but they were more professional, perhaps, in their backgrounds for football than the british were. but the games existed. they continued to gather between
9:42 pm
the lines until the commands discovered that a truce was occurring. peace was happening. they hadn't ordered it. and one can never tell with peace. it might get contagious. the war might end. if the war might end, the side that was then at the most disadvantaged would not only lose, the government would fall. they couldn't let this happen. they had to start the war again. and so, the war gradually started again, but the commanding officers of the units that were involved in the truce didn't want to fight each other. they knew each other. they knew these -- their men were laborers, farmers, milk men, carpenters, shoe salesmen and so on. one german barber, ex-barber on the front lines discovered one
9:43 pm
of his former clients from his days in england. he said, you need a back and sides trim. and so he set him up on an ammunition box and trimmed his hair before the truce ended. the truce became more a myth than anything else because it ended so quickly and some cases it lasted into new year's eve, new year's day. but what happened is that the two commands wanting the war to start again forced the soldiers to fight again and did so by taking the troops that were on the line and got to be friendly with each other and moving them back into reserve and taking the reserve units and putting them forward because they were the ones who still hated the enemy. they didn't have this experience. and the truce, therefore, ended.
9:44 pm
but the truce became a matter of song and story and you find such things as snoopy's christmas. i don't know if you know snoopy's christmas about snoopy fighting the red baron, and the red baron forces snoopy down and he's sure he's going to be shot, but the red baron comes out of the biplane with a bottle of champagne and he says, merry christmas, my friend, and they share a bottle of champagne and the red baron flies off again. that's one of the many, many songs that exist about the christmas truce. and it was fascinating to discover them. perhaps the most moving of them as well as the one least historical is called christmas in the trenches by the folk singer john mccutchen. christmas in the trenches has some wonderful lines in it about the troops discovering that on each end of the rifle were the same.
9:45 pm
and they didn't want to fire those rifles, but they had to. it ends unhistorically, but it's still a very moving song. you never know what when you're going to find songs that deal with the christmas truce. some of them don't work at all. there's one country and western song by garth brooks. most of you may know garth brooks' name. garth brooks has the americans involved in the christmas truce in the battle of bella wood which took place in july 1917. he has the snow falling softly on bella wood in july. and the americans involved and, of course, they weren't. but there are so many songs and stories that in my index to the book it takes two pages just to list the songs and stories about
9:46 pm
christmas eve. one of my favorites was told to me by a friend in england who said there's a television series "black adder." any of you know "black adder"? yeah. "black adder" is on dvd so it's easy to find it now and i have the dvd in this case. "black adder" is a young officer in the british army, and he is asked later on in the war, were you involved in the christmas truce? and he says, was i involved? i was never off side. so you know from that that not only did they play football, but they actually had amateur referees involved, too. he was never offside. yeah. we checked further to see about "black adder" and it turns out
9:47 pm
there were seven officers who died in the war named black adder. so even though the author of the series may never have known he was writing fact, he wrote fact. very strange to discover you're writing truth when you didn't know you were doing it. that was the first of my christmas books. it was very successful and it's still in print. i didn't think i was going to write another one, but i was working on a book that i think bob put up here called "iron tears." "iron tears" is about how the american revolution looked from the british side. how does it look to be a loser is what this was about. and the book got to be a very big one. and when i got near the end of the book, i realized that i was getting into christmas 1783, two years after the war ended, and that perhaps i should end the
9:48 pm
book where the war ended and not when the peace treaty was signed. at just that point i went to washington state to visit my grandsons in pullman, washington. i was asked by their teachers to come talk about writing to the students. and how do you talk to first grade and fourth grade students about writing? i figured they must know something about george washington because, after all, their state is named washington. they go to the thomas jefferson school. therefore, they must know something about thomas jefferson. i could talk to them about that subject. so i did. and i pointed out that i was thinking of ending the book before the peace treaty because the book was getting too long. and i ended it with yorktown, the battle that the british lost definitively that ended the war. and they wanted to know more
9:49 pm
about what happened after that. i had said that washington had to still take new york city back from the british, and he took it back at christmas 1783. they wanted to know about christmas. did washington go home for christmas? did he have a christmas tree? how did he travel? did he have a horse? what was the horse's name? i did my research. i found out his name. the horse's name was nelson. so here you've learned something that you may remember from this talk. in any case, what happened is that i realized that there was a book just in that aspect of the war, the war after the war, and i wrote a book called jt general washington's christmas farewell" about his taking in new york and traveling home as a great hero. every place he went he was feted as a great hero.
9:50 pm
people were sad to discover that washington was going to turn in his commission and go back to being a farmer at mt. vernon. when george iii in england heard about this, he said if england heard about this, if he refuses to be the king of america, he'll be the greatest man in the world. and maybe he was the greatest man in the world at that time. so that resulted in another book. i began thinking about a book about franklin roosevelt as president, during the last election that he fought, which was his fourth term election in 1944, during world war ii. he never lived to serve out that term. he died the next april. however, many people who voted for him, many servicemen who voted for him, volunteered by
9:51 pm
absentee ballot because they were far away and in europe or the pacific. this was about a month before the battle of the bulge in december of 44. i began thinking, that wasn't the first absentee ballot election. abraham lincoln was elected for a second term in an absentee ballot election. and i said maybe i'll look that up and see if there is a book in it. somebody had already written it. it was a very good book. i was sorry to discover it was already done. [ laughter ] >> but there was still something else, when i looked it up. i found that general sherman, having taken atlanta, in november 1864, just after the election, crossed georgia, that famous march through georgia into savannah and when he
9:52 pm
reached savannah about two days before christmas, and took savannah when the confederates retreated, he sent a telegram to lincoln saying, you have savannah for christmas. i thought, here is a book. there is a title. savannah for christmas. and so i wrote a book about the march from atlanta to savannah, ending at christmas in 1864. and i wanted to title it savannah for christmas. my publisher didn't like the idea. he said it will sound like a travel book. go to savannah for christmas. i didn't tell him that was crazy, because he was the publisher of the book and he could veto it. so it became general sherman's christmas. they changed the cover after the book was already published and changed it to general sherman's christmas. according to my wife, no books
9:53 pm
would have been sold in the south as a result of it, because general sherman was so hated. nevertheless, that was book number three about christmas. and i continued writing about christmas but doing so in each case accidentally. i wrote a book about generals eisenhower, marshall and mcarthur, taking them from their beginnings to their ends. in effect, a tri-part hide -- apartheid, and i want totd call it 15 stars. the stars between them all. but it got a terrible sub title by the publisher. in any case, when i got to chapter 1e6 15 -- chapter 11 of
9:54 pm
15 stars, i realized i had to take out much of what i had written about the battle of the bulge because of the length. i don't like to let things go. and recycled chapter 11 called three days in december and about how the battle of the bulge ended on christmas day, 1944. it ended on christmas dayco -- coincidentally because of a gre general who was a loudy human being, george patton. he was in command of the third army and knew that the third army had to trudge through the snow and cold to somehow relieve the siege of bastion, a town in belgium, which was holding up
9:55 pm
the german advance. and if he captured bastion, he would stop the germans altogether. he tried to figure out how to do it because the weather was terrible. he went to a chapel in luxembourg on the edge of the border between belgium and luxembourg, a little chapel. ep was not a roman catholic, he was episcopalian, but he knelt at the chapel and praped to god, as -- prayed to god as if he were a superyear -- superior general and he said i need your help. i need good weather to have the bombers fly again, so we can beat the germans. and he got up from his prayer, it was overheard by his aides
9:56 pm
who were with him so it was not anything i made up or anybody else made up. and they went back to war. they broke the siege of bastion and the sun came out and the bombers flew and he was the hero of the battle of the bulge. one never knows how something will tush in-- turn into a chri book. and this is something that continued for me. i wrote a fifth book about a wartime christmas because i had written an earlier one about pearl harbor. i don't know if it is on the shelf. it is called long days journey into war was an experiment on my part. i wanted to write about every hour that it was december the 7th, 1941, around the globe. because frankly roosevelt, who i was writing about at the time,
9:57 pm
said in his declaration of war speech to congress, december 11th, 1941, is a date that will live in infamy. he didn't say day, he said "date." and people confused the two regularly. i wanted to deal with the date. it becomes december the 7th, or any other date on the west side of the international dateline. that is where the day begins. so it is just east of new zealand that the day begins. i began where december the 7th began and i covered every hour that it was december the 7th, until december the 7th ended west of hawaii, west of pearl harbor and became december the 8th. every one of those dates of course was a different time
9:58 pm
elsewhere in the world. and so i had -- i think it was verdell's idea, i had four clocks at the heading of each chapter. one clock was for the actual time i was dealing with the successive time in history that it was december the 7th. the next were for major places where big events were taking place. a date in a too many in russia, a time in england and so on. so this became a book not about pearl harbor, but about a world at war on december the 7th. and when the book was republished in paper back, i gave it a new sub title and called it long days journey into war, a world at war.
9:59 pm
and that book, i thought, did the job for me. i even had a little ep ill og dealing with the aftermath, the cleaning up of pearl harbor at the end of the date. and i realized after that, that wasn't really the aftermath. the aftermath took about a month or more after pearl harbor. and not only that, but when pearl harbor happened, roosevelt called winston churchill in his home in england and he said we're at war, on your side. the japanese have attacked us. it was about 9:00 in the evening and churchill was having his dinner. and instead of being shocked that his own forces were being destroyed in the far east, he was elated because he told the american ambassador john winant
10:00 pm
who was with him then at dinner, we're saved. he said, we're saved. we're going to win the war. we're saved because america has entered the war. but he added, i must get to the white house to talk to the president about how to win the war. and john said why not give him some time to digest what is going on. churchill said i must go, before he makes some very bad decisions. churchill was the one who usually made the bad decisions, by the way. and i great many of them were bad. but churchill was advised not to fly because the north atlantic crossing was very bad, he could only get as far as labrador at best and then he would have to fly further into the united states. it might take three flights and he might be marooned for days waiting for good weather. so he took a battleship.
10:01 pm
he took the newest battleship in the british fleet and came across the washington by battleship. and he set himself up in the white house. it reminded me -- this is where fiction anticipated history. it reminded me of a play that was a big hit on broadway the year before called the man who came to dinner. the man who came to dinner, for those of you who know it, is a play about a very famous radio broadcaster, there was no tv then, who was known for his voice and the fact he was a terrible man. and a lot of this fits churchill just as well. churchill came to the white house and stayed just as the man who came to dinner stayed in the play. and in the case of the man who came to dinner, when he was finally shoed out of the --
10:02 pm
shooed out of the house because he was obnoxious, he fell down the stairs and he broke his leg and they had to carry him back in and they were stuck with him for a long time after. churchill stayed until january. the food was good, the liquor was good and he drank a lot of it. and it was also at no cost to his majesty's government. so he remained. and he and roosevelt thrashed out how the war would continue. and it was a very useful trip because roosevelt was forced to gear up for war far more than he anticipated he could do at the urging of churchill. and churchill was at the white house for the formal lighting of the christmas tree on christmas eve and spoke to a big audience in the grounds around hyde park and then went to congress the day after christmas and spoke to
10:03 pm
congress and said, you have to remember that his mother was american and his father was english. he said, if my father were american, and my mother were english, instead of the other way around, i might be talking to you here as president. he was not a shy man, as you could tell. any way, that book became pearl harbor christmas, about the period when franklin roosevelt and winston churchill met at the white house and talked about the war. i thought i was finished with wartime christmas. then a fan of my books in new york state wrote to me and said, i know you're a veteran of korea. why haven't you written a book about war time korea at christmas. and he suggested a topic for me
10:04 pm
to write about, that the marines were embattled when the chinese came down from man churchia and the marines were in desperate condition because general macarthur, who didn't know the meaning of over-reach, over-reached and should not have had his troops up there near man churi and they had to get extricated from where they were and get home. 93 ships were sent to the harbor in north korea to try to rescue the troops. but he to get to the harbor. and so my book, which comes out november 2nd, it as now official in print. it is called a christmas far
10:05 pm
from home. an epic tale of courage and survival during the korean war. that wasn't my title. as unusual, publishers think they know better because they didn't write the book. i wanted to call it escape into christmas. the bookends literally on christmas eve at 3:00 in the afternoon. it doesn't end on christmas. it is not about a christmas far from home. it is about the period before christmas when they were far from home. nevertheless, that is the title of the book and i call it escape into christmas and i hope that is how you will remember it if you look at the book. it was a fascinating story to talk about because the marines are the elite of the american armed forces. there is no question that they remain the elite of the american armed forces and in their morale and standards of combat and
10:06 pm
their standards of behavior are far better than that of other troops. and i say that, although i was in the army in korea, not in the marines. nevertheless, the marines were shot at and had to get down as fast as they could from the hills of north korea. it was very difficult for them to do so because of the weather. 30 below zero, high winds, trackless wastes to travel in. weather so bad that their planes could not fly much of the time. but they wanted to get home and they were longing for campus at home because general macarthur had come to visit them briefly for a few hours just before thanksgiving day and had said, i'm going to have you boys home for christmas. the war will be over. well they remembered that, but
10:07 pm
of course he lied. they were not home for christmas. but they remembered christmas and almost everything they saw reminded them of christmas. troops who were struggling along with grenades strapped to their chests, reminded of them when they were all wet -- or icy with snow and ice, reminded them of a christmas tree with christmas decorations, that is the grenades around their chests. they looked at the forests that were covered with snow and were being bombed at and they talked about them as being christmas trees on fire. everything reminded them of christmas. except that they had one thing they must do, and this is where i will close. they had to get across a 4,000 foot kazism.
10:08 pm
the chinese had blown the bridge. how do you cross a 4,000 foot chasm when it is dark and snowing. they found a way. the air force dropped treadway girders for a bridge and the combat engineers built a bridge with these girders that crossed the cass em and they crossed with each one with a flashlight reminding them where to go. they had only two inches of clearance on either side for their tanks and if they didn't make it, they dropped 4,000 feet. one truck did, loaded with living and dead. it must have been a terrible sight to see.
10:09 pm
any way, that chapter is probably the most dramatic chapter i've ever written about in any book of mine. and it awed me to go through what they had to go through to cross the krchasm and get to safety, but they did. and the ships left, 93 of them, with over 100,000 marines on christmas eve, 1950. but there is a surprise ending i'm not going to tell you about. because i want to you read the book. so i'm going to end right there. and now it is up to you, if you have any questions for me and i'll let somebody else monitor that. thank you for listening. [ applause ]
10:10 pm
>> doctor, thank you so much for coming. [ inaudible ]. >> i can't hear you. somebody will have to carry the message forward. >> thank you so much for coming. i'm an advisy of dr. doyle and we've heard a lot about this for the past number of weeks. i guess i have two questions. first, i was wondering if you could speak to your educational background it. sounds like you might have more of a background in english and how that has played into writing history and second, i was wondering if you ever considered writing a book with dr. doyle about prisoners of war during christmastime? >> there are a lot of questions there. buried into that one question. i became interested in war long before i was in war. in the 1930s, i'm in my middle 80s, so you can judge 1930s, i
10:11 pm
was a kid. i collected bubble gum cards. the bubble gum cards were not only of baseball players, but there were war cards back then. there were the -- between wars, the civil war in spain, the war in china and the war in ethiopia. i collected the bubble gum cards and was fascinated by warment the cards were erroneous and very much propaganda but they got me going in np -- an interest in war. i still have 230 of them. i saved them all of this time. so war game of interest to me. i began writing a history of the war in a little notebook when i was 10 years old. and it wasn't very good. and what i learned was only from the newspapers. eventually i gave it up. but i was trying to write about war. when i went into the service,
10:12 pm
all officers sent to korea were required to sign a documentdiar. well, i don't know whether i was lying or not, but i had little three by five notebook papers and i would tear out pages from this and write about interesting things that happened when many of the days in the war. and i kept them. i still have many of them, i think. and that became the material from my -- for my first book on the korean war. this is my third book on the korean war. they are all different. but nevertheless, i was learning all of the time. and you can't learn any better than you can learn from real experience. but real experience isn't enough. you have to be able to write.
10:13 pm
and you learn how to write by writing. and you learn how to write by doing a lot of reading. and i did a lot of both. and i learned how to write. i did not get a degree in history. except, as an under graduate. i wanted to go on in history, but i could not get a teaching assistantship in history. the result was that i grabbed what i could and i got a teaching assistant ship in english and i eventually became a ph.d in english but continued to write history. it didn't bother anybody. i think i did okay. but i hope that answers your question. any other query? >> there was a second question. >> i missed it. >> you have considered writing a
10:14 pm
christmas military history with dr. doyle. >> would i consider writing a christmas history? >> with dr. doyle. >> oh, he would have to find a christmas. i've run out of wars. i don't know a thing about vietnam which was his war. so i would feel quite incompetent working on vietnam. and i don't know if there was any christmas component in vietnam. you could answer that, but you would probably have to go to a mic so everybody would hear you. >> the closest thing that came to that was in '68 when the north vietnamese had broken the truce declare fo-- declared for that particular year. but that is it.
10:15 pm
>> but it was not a christmas truce? >> it was sort of a christmas truce. but it was the vietnamese new year which is christmas eastern, fourth of july, 30th of may, all wrapped up in one. >> like the christmas garth brooks sang about in july. >> i did have one question for you, stan, and that is the marine corp is very proud of the chosen reservoir campaign. that is true. and they teach this campaign to their officers in the -- in their basic school. and also they teach gal ip olie, as well. but, did you find in your research the quality of the junior officers and senior enlisted are what the marine corp says they were. the marine corp is very proud of
10:16 pm
j.o. and keeping it altogether. did you find this in your research as well? >> i think the armed services have been very lucky that senior noncommissioned officers have been will to stay as a career because they provide the bull work of how one learns what to do in the armed services. i can't say the same is true with officers because there is a problem of age and grade. one of my lieutenants in korea was a special exception. he was the second lupt who should have been -- lieutenant who should have been canned because he was over 29 years old and you are not supposed to be a second lieutenant in your 30s, but for political reasons he was kept on. age and grade effects every rank in commissioned officers. it does not effect enlisted people. sow can be a corp -- so you can
10:17 pm
be a corporal and be 59 years old but you can't be a lieutenant and be 59 years old. so it is the nco's, the senior noncommissioned officers who make a difference in the army and it is important for the armed services to try to retain them. >> you are more port than the reservoir for sure. yeah, that is good. >> i just said it was certainly important in the chosen reservoir campaign, especially during the retreat. >> well, i have to further answers. i could, of course, go on talking and talking, because that is what i do regularly. but i think you probably heard enough of me. if any of you would like to see the christmas box, you are welcome to do so.
10:18 pm
roddel is going to have it and show it. if people want to see it before they leave. and i'll be glad to talk to anybody personally who wants to come up and talk to me. thank you. [ applause ] join american history tv tonight for lectures in history, from brand ice university we go in the classroom of jonathan sarna. he identified newspaper articles
10:19 pm
about henry ford. that is at midnight here on cspan3, american history tv. here are some of our featured programs this weekend on the c-span networks. saturday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan, elena kagen at princeton university. sunday evening on c-span's q&a, glenn kessler on his end of the year, biggest pinocchios. and saturday night at 10:00 on book tv afterwards, damon root on the long-standing battle of supreme court activism. and book critic jonathan yardly who retired after 33 years with the washington post. and on american history tv on cspan3 on saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern on the civil war, hi historians discuss lincolns 1864
10:20 pm
re-election campaign. and sunday at 4:00. reel america. during the battle of the bulge. go to and let us know about the programs. call us at 202-626-3400 or go to comments at c-span. like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. each week reel america brings the story of the 20th century. >> planned for months with brilliant coming, favored by our lack of readiness with a sky and sea all of their own, at #:55 a.m., hell broke loose. man-made hell. made in


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on