The Most Remarkable Christmas of the 20th Century by Lois Bolin, Ph.D., Old Naples Historian

Over 2,000 Christmases have occurred since the birth of Jesus Christ, but few saw the future of humanity hanging so precariously in the balance as did the Christmas of 1941. That Christmas came only weeks after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th. By December 24th, there was little guarantee that the Allied Powers — anchored by the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union — would be able to defeat the Axis Powers of Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan, and Italy.” (The Hill, Dec. 24, 2019.)

Yet, fifteen days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, surprised Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, with an unparalleled trip to Washington to jointly light the White House Christmas tree and discuss the fate of the Free World.

“As these two Allied leaders met to map out a winning wartime strategy, the most remarkable Christmas of the century played out across the globe.” (Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941.)

Presence of Mind

While the uncertainty of World War II’s outcome looked ominous, these leaders were most certain of the need to commemorate and

AAF Veteran, George Bashera is with USAF Veteran, Wayne Smith at the Naples Keep the Spirit of 45 Alive on August 14 at Seed to Table (Photo courtesy of Lois Bolin)

celebrate Christmas Day; to recognize the dignity and brotherhood of man; and perhaps most importantly, to protect and celebrate the innocence of childhood.

Is it any wonder that in 2002, out of 100 public entries, Churchill was selected as the greatest Briton? No doubt he was flawed, but his bold and tireless resolve to take on the might of Nazi Germany; inspired a nervous Britain to never…never surrender.

When Roosevelt came into office, America’s Army was 16th-best in the world, behind those of Romania and Spain. After Roosevelt’s death, the United States was the most powerful nation in the history of the world because he too refused to be intimidated by tyrants.


Army Veteran,
Florence Weinstein
enjoying Taps
Across America at
Lowdermilk Park
(Photo Courtesy of
Heather Corace)

Christmas is filled with heart-warming rituals that make this festive period so special. Perhaps the most seasonal rituals are complaining that Christmas is too commercialized (complaining can be good for you if it’s done with a purpose); and the rituals that connect us to our idealized past. One of those beloved collective connections is a Christmas Parade.

Oh, how we missed the City of Naples Christmas Parade last year, and oh how glad we are to say: it is on for 2021. This year’s theme is based upon two cherished Christmas movies: In a World Full of Grinches-Be a Griswold. Truth be told, both movies hold similar life lessons: find the magic and whimsy when you were a child and spread this joy far and wide.

Our two 2021 Honorary Parade Marshals were part of the most remarkable Christmas of the 20th century. World War II Army Veteran, Florence Weinstein (97), and World War II Army Air Force Veteran, George Bashara (103) who both live these life lessons and embody this magical spirit to spread joy wherever they go.

While many think that the modern American Christmas is a media phenomenon, I invite you to come to downtown Naples on December 7th at 6pm to experience what a magical place the world was when you were a child. Veterans and their families are invited to Cambier Park where the city has reserved bleacher seating for you and yours.

And if you can’t join us in person, then you can watch on the City Channel (Comcast 98,) Facebook or the City’s website. This is not a media phenomenon – it is a way we connect our seasoned citizens to the magic in this place we call home.

This is destined to be a remarkable Christmas

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