Calling the song that is the subject of this post a “Hymn of Social Justice” may be stretching definitions a wee bit, but in the Spirit of Christmas I am going to stretch. One of my family’s favorite traditions for celebrating the Advent season is to share our favorite Christmas stories each night from December 1st to the 24th. One of the stories that I love the most is the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 that took place between German and British troops along the Western Front during the early days of World War I.
The very most basic version of the story is that on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 British and German soldiers put down their guns, walked out into “No Man’s Land”, and celebrated the holiday together. They sang hymns, exchanged gifts, shared drinks, and buried their dead. The story is one of my favorites because it is such a powerful reminder that most wars are started and orchestrated by the rich and powerful class but fought with the blood of the common class. If the soldiers could just be persuaded to put down their guns and refuse to fight many if not most wars might just end. I recognize that there are times where people must legitimately fight for their freedom and defend their homes and loved ones from those who would oppress them and do them harm. But most wars are not that type and World War I was a war about greed and power and not about defending freedom. How different the history of the world would be if World War I ended on December 25th of 1914.
And now the song. In 1966 A novelty Rock and Roll group from Florida called “The Royal Guardsmen” released a song called “Snoopy versus the Red Baron.” The song tells the story of how the Red Baron was cutting down the allied fighter pilots, “80 tired, and 80 men died,” until, “a funny looking dog, with a big black nose” proved to be the Baron’s match. At the end of the song the Red Baron goes down in flames and Snoopy has saved the day.