“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls, to arrive at its destination full of hope.” ~ Maya Angelou
Aiden Foster and Jochen Weber, of 'On Wings of Song' by Anne Barnwell, are young men caught in a war they don't want to fight. In an unusual twist of fate, they receive a rare opportunity to meet and get to know each other as friends, not enemies. In the first year of WWI, a truce is called between the Americans and the Germans on Christmas day. The cease in hostilities gives Aiden, Jochen, and other soldiers on both sides, a day to be ordinary men and not enemies. Aiden and Jochen exchange buttons as a remembrance of this special day; the buttons are a beacon of hope and affection in the midst of the horrors they encounter in the war.
During the truce, Jochen and Aiden discuss their joint interest in literature. Aiden finds out that Jochen learned English since so many of the books he wanted to read were in that language. Jochen and Aiden have several stimulating conversations that Christmas day. They talk about themselves, their lives, families, and their hopes and dreams. The more they share, the more they realize that they have a great deal in common. The propaganda they have been fed about the other side pales and evaporates with their new closeness. When Aiden sings at their combined service, everyone appreciates Aiden's beautiful voice. It carries so clear and bright that it almost makes them forget that tomorrow, they will be enemies again. Jochen feels as if he's found someone who truly understands him. They, along with several other soldiers, now have trouble thinking of the other side as the enemy. Jochen and Aiden wish for each other's safety and hope that they will somehow meet again after the war.
After making it through the horrible war, Jochen and Aiden endure heartbreaking situations at home and both lose their parents. Jochen is fortunate enough to receive a sizable amount of money from a great aunt after she dies, including a cottage in England. He goes to England to complete the legal procedures with one thing on his mind—trying to find Aiden. He's never forgotten his friend and is hoping to find him well and happy. Although his English is excellent, his German accent is a detriment. There is a lot of resentment toward Germany and many people are not anxious to help Jochen in his search for Aiden. Jochen does find a few people willing to help though. He and Aiden finally get together, but all is not well with Aiden. Besides being wounded and sent home early; besides being crippled, for some inexplicable reason, Aiden has also lost his voice. Not expecting a lot to come of their reunion, but hoping for it, Jochen stays and they attempt to be friends, but there are a lot of road blocks in their path. Aiden and Jochen dance around each other trying to define their relationship, but things aren't going well. Jochen soon realizes that Aiden's inability to sing has seriously damaged his self-confidence. Even though Jochen continues to be there for Aiden, the closeness he yearns for can't be achieved until Aiden's self-confidence is restored.
This is a wonderful, endearing love story between two special men who, technically, should never have even met, but on one Christmas Day in 1914, love, determined to beat all odds, gave them a very special gift. Making the story even more poignant is that The Christmas Truce of 1914 is a real historical event; this year, December 25, 2014, marks the one hundred year anniversary. I recommend this story to everyone who enjoys history, acknowledges the futility of war, believes in hope, and appreciates that love can overcome any odds. Thanks, Anne, for this very special holiday story!