Top 30 Soldier Songs: #13 – “Belleau Wood” by Garth Brooks
Very few have managed to capture the image that master Garth Brooks revealed in his powerful closing track to his hit album Sevens. Eight writer, including Brooks, teamed together to showcase the story of the Christmas truce, a standoff that occurred in the early parts of the WW I between the enemy Germans and the US allies.
The story of the Christmas truce is a powerful one. Both sides of the fight decided to call off all violent action between each other for the duration of Christmas Eve, and even Christmas Day itself. In fact some even held this truce off until the New Year. During this time soldiers from both forces left their tranches, putting themselves potentially in harms way, to try and meet their enemies at “No Man’s Land” between their barriers and to take advantage of this peaceful standoff. As a result these rival forces exchanged small gifts, shook hands, told stories, and even played sports and games to pass the time, all as one entity rather than fighting forces. This whole event was started when a German soldier began hanging Christmas decorations around his trench and began singing the song “Silent Night”. The Scottish troops stationed across from him began to sing the song in English and eventually the entire culmination of human beings in those trenches began to sing along.
The story that Garth tells in his song takes lace in a very popular battlefield during WW I, Belleau Wood. He does not declare what nationality his character is, presumed American by his English language, but he doesn’t need to. The story progresses through the eyes of Garth’s character as he narrates the events that occur, including a German soldier singing “Silent Night” and him joining in. One of the most powerful points in the song is when the narrator sees the German wave to him in a way that seems to say “Here’s hoping we both live to see us find a better way”. When everything is over the battle reconvenes, but the narrator returns to battle.
What this song presents for the troops of today and yesterday still rings true. Garth was able to capture the magic and peace of that one night in this song, a night that has helped define to possibility of peace, harmony and cooperation among all man kind sense the first world war. The narrator concludes the song with a powerful message, “Heaven’s not beyond the clouds, it’s for us to find down here.” Few have managed to project a flawless soldier song in their careers, and it’s only appropriate that the great Garth Brooks was able to offer such an beautiful balled of one soldeir’s story through one of the landmark moments of humanity.