Op-Ed: A Christmas Miracle

It was the summer of 1776, near New York City, when General George Washington readied his troops for an attack by the British.  As the leading center of commerce, it was imperative that the Continental Army help this vital economic center.

British General William Howe arrived prepared— every detail was considered, and the element of surprise would be the key to victory. His battle plan was brilliantly executed, resulting in a decisive defeat of the Continental Army.

All hope appeared to be lost.

Washington, knowing the British would soon be preparing for a siege, was forced to act quickly. The Army could not withstand another blow. Though the situation had seemingly crippled the Army, on the night of August 29th, George Washington successfully led his troops out of Brooklyn Heights, and into Manhattan.

It was a miracle: not a single life was lost that night. The Continental Army had survived and outmaneuvered the attack. However, Washington’s Army was driven across New Jersey by the British, and he finally found refuge in Pennsylvania in December.

After months of defeat, the Continental Army was a shadow of its former self.  Many men left the ranks and returned home and a large portion of the force would end their term of service on New Year’s Day.  If Washington did not achieve a victory before the end of the year, the war for independence would be forever lost.

Moral was low, supplies dwindled, and the Army had certainly seen better days. But alas, on that cold winter night, Washington and his soldiers pushed on, determined to change their fate.

All hope appeared to be lost.

George Washington “Appealed to Heaven” for wisdom on what to do and he soon had his answer.

On Christmas day in 1776, Washington led his troops across the Delaware River to strike the Hessian garrison in Trenton, New Jersey.

And then, the impossible became possible.

The Hessian garrison succumbed under the surprise attack and the offensive turned out to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. The Army’s hope was restored and their defeat in New York was forgotten. On the heels of this victory, Washington marched onto Princeton and defeated the British Regulars there. 

The tide was turning.

Fast forward to Belgium, 1944. The Nazis were bent on blunting the Allied offensive in the west and launched a daring surprise attack through the Ardennes Forest of Belgium.  The attack quickly shattered the American lines as Hitler’s last Panzer forces in the west pushed west, poised to capture Bastogne, which the Nazis quickly encircled.

Beset with persistent German assaults and poor weather conditions, the condition of the troops – both physically and mentally – depleted. Much needed food and medical supplies became scarce, especially for the besieged American soldiers of the 101st Airborne and 10the Armored Divisions encircled in Bastogne.

Yet, they fought on.

The poor weather conditions prevented Allied airpower from stopping the persistent Nazi attacks.

But as the Germans rejoiced in their brief triumph, General George Patton issued a prayer just before Christmas 1944 that would change the course of history.  Providentially, the prayer was written on December 14, but not issued to the Army until just days before Christmas, when the prayer was needed most.

The prayer read:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”

It was a miracle: soon after the prayer, the weather cleared. And not only did the weather clear, but so did the path to victory.

Within days, General Patton counterattacked the German forces, saved the garrison in Bastogne and the frontlines were restored.

The impossible became possible, just as it had in 1776.

Today, we are facing political struggles that seem despairingly ‘impossible’.

With widespread fraud allegations plaguing our election processes, and elected officials afraid of standing up for their country, our nation is facing unprecedented political turbulence.

In the words of Thomas Paine, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

But, these times are not impossible.

We will not rest until every legal vote is counted — because your voice matters.

We will not rest until faith is restored in our election process — because confidence in casting your ballot matters.

It is now our time to “appeal to heaven.”

The ultimate remembrance of this Christmas season is rooted in God sending His son Jesus Christ to offer the gift of grace, forgiveness and salvation.

I believe that if we prayerfully stand in solidarity, remembering the reason for the season, and the legacy of history that brought us here, we may just have a Christmas miracle in 2020.


Senator Doug Mastriano represents the 33rd Senate District, which includes all of Adams County, and portions of Franklin, Cumberland and York counties.

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