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Monday, December 26, 2016

A Different Christmas Poem

Happy Day After! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas or holiday, and are looking forward to the New Year with great hope and anticipation.

A friend sent me this poem and although you may have seen it before, I wanted to share it again as a reminder that not everyone is able to be home with family and friends for the holidays. It made me think of all those who are serving our country, whether a soldier in a foreign land or a law enforcement officer or first responder who is out in the winter weather protecting their community.

I'm forever grateful to these men and women who are forgoing their holidays so we can enjoy ours.

A Different Christmas Poem

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,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before.
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 for my sister or 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."
 

The author was listed as anonymous, so I did a little research about the poem's origins, and this is what I found:
Copies of "A Different Christmas Poem" circulated on the internet are often attributed to Lt. Commander Jeff Giles SC, USN which he wrote while stationed in Al Taqqadum, Iraq, but which some sources also attribute to Michael Marks. There is possibly some confusion since "A Soldier's Christmas" is another poem which the International War Veterans' Poetry Archive (IWVPA) lists as a December 2000 effort authored by Michael Marks. It includes the following note from Marks about its origins:
"A Soldier's Christmas" was the first in this series of patriotic writings, drafted on Pearl Harbor Day 2000 when 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, 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.
~*~*~*~   Enjoy your Holidays!   ~*~*~*~
 

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