Hopewell/Prince George Chamber lights Christmas tree to remember Christmas Truce of 1914

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Despite the rain on Monday, December 21, the Hopewell/Prince George (Virginia) Chamber celebrated the Truce of 1914 with the lighting of a Christmas tree beside the Visitor Center at 4100 Oaklawn Blvd., Hopewell.

Christmas tree at Hopewell/Prince George Visitor Center

We have our LOVE sign out front. The tree lighting symbolizes peace, and we are sharing the joy of the season by coming together today.

Despite the rain on Monday, December 21, the Hopewell/Prince George (Virginia) Chamber celebrated the Christmas Truce of 1914 with the lighting of a Christmas tree beside the Visitor Center at 4100 Oaklawn Blvd., Hopewell. Chamber CEO Becky McDonough welcomed guests to the Visitor Center, talking of the symbols of the season – love, peace and sharing.

“We have our LOVE sign out front,” she said. “The tree lighting symbolizes peace, and we are sharing the joy of the season by coming together today.”

Lorin Sodell, manufacturing executive/operations director at Rolls-Royce in Prince George County, commented, “I’m glad that the HPG Chamber cares about the community to sponsor events like this that really show a lot of heart.”

During the Christmas truce of 1914, British and German troops declared a ceasefire along the Western front in Europe to recognize this holiday of peace. According to accounts from the time, the British and German soldiers on the front lines laid down their arms, exchanged gifts and even played a game of soccer.

World War I had special significance for the Hopewell/Prince George area because it led to the expansion of DuPont’s dynamite plant established in Hopewell in 1912. At its peak the plant employed 28,850 persons. In 1916, during this boom time, the City of Hopewell was incorporated. The war also led to the establishment of Ft. Lee and, since that time, the military has played a major role in the economic development of the area.

Historic Background of DuPont and Ft. Lee in World War I
In 1912, the E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company bought 800 acres at Hopewell Farms to build a dynamite plant. In 1914, DuPont bought an additional 1,600 acres of what had been the estate of Colonel Francis Epps, which included Appomattox Manor at City Point. At the City Point site, DuPont built the world’s largest dynamite plant.

When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, DuPont's Hopewell Plant employed more than 5,000 people. At its peak the DuPont Plant at Hopewell was producing 1.5 million pounds of guncotton (an explosive made by digesting clean cotton in a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids) per day and produced nearly 1.16 billion pounds of guncotton during its lifetime, according to The History of Manufacture of Explosives for the World War 1917-1918.

With the American entry into World War I in 1917, Camp Lee was established on 8,900 acres in Prince George County. At the end of the war, Camp Lee was closed; the DuPont plant closed and the area’s boom ended. With the start of World War II in Europe, the U.S. Congress passed the Selective Service Act and the War Department began rebuilding Ft. Lee. More than 350,000 men trained here. Today, Ft. Lee has a combined military and civilian population of 34,000. Another 70,000 troops come to Ft. Lee for training, making it the Army’s third largest training site.

About the Hopewell/Prince Chamber of Commerce:
Founded in 1920 during hard economic times, the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber of Commerce brought together business and community leaders to promote economic development. The largest business organization in the area, the HPG Chamber serves and advocates for manufacturers, businesses, professionals, recreational and hospitality facilities and historic attractions in Hopewell and Prince George, Virginia. The chamber operates from and manages a state-certified Visitor Center at 4100 Oaklawn Boulevard, Hopewell, and promotes the area to locals and the traveling public. Hopewell and Prince George County are 20 miles south of Richmond in the I-95-295 corridor. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the area’s 35 miles of historic riverfront on the Appomattox and James Rivers. With a relaxed pace of life and strong economic development, the region offers work/life balance to the 59,000 people who live here. For more information on the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber, visit http://www.hpgchamber.org.

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