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
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
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the
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
Then he sighed, “that’s a Christmas Gram
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.”
Note: In loving appreciation
of the countless Americans who have, and continue to serve in the Armed
Forces and those who gave their life for their country. Your sacrifices
will never be forgotten. We look forward to the day you come home. God
bless and keep you always, and God Bless America.
A Soldier’s Christmas was the first in this series
writings, drafted on Pearl Harbor Day 2000 when in the wake of the 2000
Presidential Election our nation saw the right of US Armed Forces
personnel openly questioned and debated. I felt it unconscionable that
at the onset of the Christmas season, those serving to defend our
nation would hear anything but our love and support. It is our
challenge to stand for their rights at home while they stand for our
lives and safety overseas. This poem went out and quickly spread around
the world in emails, letters, and magazines. I received letters from
Marines in Bosnia, soldiers in Okinawa, from a submariner who xeroxed a
copy for everyone on his sub. Moms wrote, dads, brothers and sisters. I
have saved and cherish every letter and set out to continue writing
throughout the year.
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