Happy 376th Birthday, National Guard!
Book Review: Living With Honor

A Different Christmas Poem

[Annual Repost - first post December 7, 2005]

Subsunk here.  December is upon us.  The winds are howling and the snow is falling in much of America.  I came in to work today and found this in my inbox.  Folks at work know I am very pro-military, and look out for things like this for me.  I don't know who wrote it, but he has all the makings of the Bard in him.

Many will say they have seen tributes like this before, but this one is new to me.  I have seen Christmas remembrances to the military before.  But not this one.  This one explains what those who do their duty expect of "We, the Protected".  Whether you serve in Alaska or Amariya, Iraq, some small tidbits in the news have recently pointed out why our servicemen sign up to serve.  They've even mentioned that the Iraqis signing up to join the Iraqi Armed Forces feel the same way as our men and women in uniform do.  They signed up because it is their duty.  To defend America, to defend Iraq and America from terrorists, to defend Americans who sleep at home safe and sound, because it is a dirty thankless job.

But someone needs to do it.  And when you get to the bottom, remember why they do it.  Do they matter to you?  And have you shown it?

For you ladies and gents around the world, standing your watch, walking your post, doing your duty, giving your lives to us, WE REMEMBER:



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 by 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 eyes 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 "Its really all right,

I'm out here by choice. I'm here every  night."



    "It's 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  sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure 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.