A Soldiers Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone, In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone. I had come down the chimney with presents to give And to see just who in this home did live. I looked all about a strange sight I did see, No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree. No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand, On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands. With medals and badges, awards of all kind A sober thought came through my mind. For this house was different, so dark and dreary, I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly. I heard stories about them, I had to see more So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door. And there he lay sleeping silent alone, Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home. His face so gentle, his room in such disorder, Not how I pictured a United States soldier. Was this the hero of whom I’d just read? Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed? His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan, I soon understood this was more than a man. For I realized the families that I saw that night Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight. Soon ‘round the world, the children would play, And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day. They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year, Because of soldiers like this one lying here. I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home. Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye, I dropped to my knees and started to cry. The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice, “Santa don’t cry, this life is my choice; I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more, my life is my God, my country, my Corps.” With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep, I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep. I watched him for hours, so silent and still, I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill. So I took off my jacket, the one made of red, And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head. And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black, With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back. And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride, And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside. I didn’t want to leave him on that cold dark night, This guardian of honor so willing to fight. Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so clean and pure, “Carry on Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all is secure.” One look at my watch, and I knew he was right, Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night!
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The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, my daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight. The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded y love I would sleep in perfect contentment, or so it would seem. So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream. The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near, But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow. My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, and I crept to the door just to see who was near. Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child. “What are you doing?” I asked without fear “Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here! Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!” For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts, to the window that danced with a warm fire’s light then he sighed and he said “It’s really all right, I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night” “Its my duty to stand at the front of the line, that separates you from the darkest of times. No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me. My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,” then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.” My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam And now it is my turn and so, here I am. I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile. Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red white and blue… an American flag. “I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home, I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat, I can carry the weight of killing another or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers who stand at the front against any and all, to insure for all time that this flag will not fall.” “So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.” “But isn’t there something I can do, at the least, “Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast? It seems all too little for all that you’ve done, For being away from your wife and your son.” Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, “Just tell us you love us, and never forget To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone. To stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, to know you remember we fought and we bled is payment enough, and with that we will trust. That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”