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 wasnít loud. And it wasnít too near,
but I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didnít 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, my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear.
"Come in this moment, itís 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 eye shift
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fireís light.
Then he sighed and he said, "Itís really all right,
Iím out here by choice. Iím here every night.
Itís 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.
Iím proud to stand here like my fathers before me."
"My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December."
Then he sighed, "Thatís a Christmas
Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of Nam
And now itís my turn and so, here I am.
Iíve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, heís sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blueÖan 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 fox hole 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 ensure for all times that this flag will not fall.
O go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
your family is waiting and Iíll be all right."
"But isnít there something I can do, at the least?
Give you money?" I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It all seems too little for all that youíve done,
for being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled with a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back 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."
This is a brief poem I wrote to extend my sincere appreciation and holiday wishes to active and former members of the Armed Forces, and to share a bit of love and holiday spirit. Please feel free, if you see fit, to post or forward this poem in any form or venue with my blessings. Thanks for helping to share the holiday spirit and the thanks of a grateful nation.
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!
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