As many troops as there are in the Middle East it would seem there are at least half as many opinions on the war itself. There are no easy answers, however, this much is certain … it is the time of year for giving to and thinking of others. It is the time of year for letting go of our differences. It is the time of year to be grateful for the smallest things in life … more important, life itself. Below are messages written by veterans (both funny and touching), perhaps you have seen them before, but it never hurts to be reminded…
A MILITARY CHRISTMAS
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and 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 mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
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.”
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
And we both shivered from the cold night’s chill.
I didn’t want to leave on that cold, dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over with a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “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.”
This poem was written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
ARMY CHRISTMAS OPERATIONS ORDER 00-5689:
1. An official visit by MG Santa (NMI) Claus is expected at this headquarters 25 December. The following instructions will be in effect and govern the activities of all personnel during the visit.
2. MG Claus will enter quarters through standard chimneys. All units without chimneys will draw Chimney Simulator, M-6, for use during ceremonies. Chimney simulator units will be requested through SPC Oswalt on Job Order Request Form submitted to the Furniture Warehouse prior to 19 December, and issued on DA Form 3161, Request for Issue or Turn-in.
3. Personnel will be rehearsed on shouting “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.” See LTC Pride for demonstration. This shout will be given on termination of General Claus’ visit. Uniformity of shouting is the responsibility of section NCOICs.
Christopher K. Ringle, Colonel, USA
OIC, Special Services
DISTRIBUTION: EVERYBODY WHO STILL BELIEVES CHRISTMAS
Christmas time two thousand and three,
We still have Santa and the Christmas tree.
We still are a caring and loving people,
Our prayers still resonate from under the steeple.
Tommy and Maggie were feeling sad,
Christmas was coming they missed their Dad.
Daddy is in Iraq they don’t understand
Why Daddy’s Christmas is in a faraway land.
Tommy age five, Maggie just three,
Helped their Mother trim the Christmas tree.
Christmas Eve, before climbing into bed
Heads were bowed prayers were said.
Dear God we want you to know
We love our Daddy and miss him so.
Please send an Angel down from above
Give our Daddy our hugs and love.
Then they snuggled under covers deep,
The Sandman arrived put them to sleep.
Christmas morning they were excited to see
Brightly wrapped gifts under the tree.
Then special gifts from far away,
Letters from Daddy to be opened this day.
Daddy told them how much they were missed,
Through their Mother each was hugged and kissed.
Hugs and kisses from their Dad,
Tommy and Maggie were no longer sad.
One more verse to this poem,
God bless our Troops send them safely home.
by John McCrea, WWII Veteran
Lincoln, Nebraska 2003
(Find these and more on the Web using the keywords “Military Christmas”)
A safe and happy holiday to all ... and as always, thank you for reading.