The American St. Nick tells the remarkable TRUE story of a handful of American soldiers who during the chaos of war, help bring Christmas back to a small Luxembourg town, and unknowingly create a holiday tradition that continues to this very day!
It’s December 1944, the Germans are retreating. It appears the war in Europe may be over soon, but not soon enough for members of the battle-worn 28th Infantry Division. Knowing they won’t be home again for the Holidays, soldiers from a 112th regiment Signal Company Message Center in the storybook town of Wiltz, realize that although the town has been liberated after nearly five years of Nazi occupation, the ravages of war have left the townspeople with nothing to celebrate the season. For the children, it will be especially bleak without the hope of candies, treats or gifts on the normally town-wide celebration of St. Nicolas Day.
Hearing this, Corporal Harry Stutz gets an idea. He gathers some fellow soldiers and together they organize a Christmas party for the children, a party that will include a special visit from St. Nicolas himself, thanks to a reluctant Corporal Richard Brookins.
Wearing the mass robes of the local priest and a crudely fashioned rope beard to complete the costume, St. Nicolas rides through town on an Army jeep, stopping to meet the children and passing out treats baked by the Army cooks or donated from the soldier’s care packages from home. Later the celebration continues with a party for all the children at the Wiltz Castle. It is a wonderful day for the children of Wiltz and for the American soldiers as well.
Ten days later however the Battle of the Bulge erupts in the Ardennes; Wiltz and the 28th Infantry Division are overrun. In the weeks of fighting that followed, most of the town is damaged or destroyed, mostly from Allied bombing. Tragically, some of the townspeople including children were killed. The joy of that one St. Nicolas day was gone…but not forgotten.
Following the war Wiltz rebuilt and those who survived vowed never to forget the kindness and generosity of those few American soldiers that one St. Nicolas Day. From then on, to honor those soldiers, the Wiltz St. Nicolas Day celebration would include a new tradition: someone would dress not as St. Nicolas, but rather as the American St. Nicolas and recreate his 1944 Jeep ride through town and party after. This tradition has continued faithfully for more than seven decades.
An amazing TRUE story of war, honor, luck and love, The American St. Nick is a thrilling and heart-warming holiday classic packed full of incredible details that will amaze, entertain and delight.
“One more memorable and inspiring story from the greatest generation – Soldiers who put down their weapons and brought Christmas to a beleaguered town and its kids. It will touch your heart and make you proud.” – Tom Brokaw, author “The Greatest Generation”
“In American St. Nick, Peter Lion adds an indelible chapter to the story of the great allied crusade in western Europe to defeat Hitler’s Germany. It is a time and a place where everything is at stake–and American GIs changed the course of history. Lion gives us the war as they knew it, and as those who suffered through occupation knew it. But this is a story about more than soldiering. It is a story of how even in the face of death and terror there are those among us who find a way to retain their humanity and compassion. American St. Nick is a beautifully told tale of the power of the human spirit.” – Jeremy Schaap, author “Cinderella Man” & “Triumph”
“Better than any Christmas fable, this is a remarkable true story that I can’t believe I didn’t know: American soldiers putting down their guns in the heat of WWII battle, to offer a sliver of light and holiday hope. An uplifting must-read.”- Willie Geist, NBC’s TODAY and MSNBC’s Morning Joe
“On December 5, 1944, against the bleak backdrop of World War II, a group of American GI’s unleashed the strongest weapon in their arsenal: humanity. Peter Lion recaptures the magic of Santa to transcend even the darkest of times. The children of Wiltz, Luxembourg, never forgot their American St. Nick. And now neither will you.” – Meredith Vieira, Journalist and TV Talk Show Host
About the Author
Peter Lion is a 7-Time Emmy winning television Producer, Director, Writer and Journalist.