The Soldier’s Night Before Christmas

Santa addressing the troops

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & 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 fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

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The Soldiers Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & 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 fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and dreary,
I knew I had found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

I heard stories about them, I had to see more
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping silent alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.

His face so gentle, his room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
Owed their lives to these men who were willing to fight.

Soon `round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of soldiers like this one lying here.

I couldn´t help wonder how many lay alone
On a cold Christmas Eve in a land far from home.
Just 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.”

With that he rolled over and drifted off into sleep,
I couldn´t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night´s chill.

So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
And I put on his T-shirt of gray and black,
With an eagle and an Army patch embroidered on back.

And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for a shining moment, I was United States Army deep inside.
I didn´t want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over, whispered with a voice so clean and pure,
“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!

Footnote: I wrote this poem for Christmas Eve 1993 while assigned to US Forces Korea – Lt Col Bruce W. Lovely, USAF (Printed in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp, 1995). With Apologies to Clement Moore Who First Wrote the Story for His Children in 1822 also credit given to M/Sgt Noah Brazos Ross, RA18033195, a US Army 18th Field Artillery survivor of Utah Beach, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Battle for the Ardennes, Deutschland wrote “Daddy’s Christmas” (Soldier’s Christmas)” as a Bonita, Montague County, Texas, high school exercise in 1937).

Mann, Victory for Humanity

Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” – Horace Mann

When I see these words from Horace Mann it reminds me to do good in the world. To go beyond myself and help others out. While many could argue that Mann meant one should to do some great, noble, or magnanimous act to help humanity; I prefer to think of if it on the personal level. One on one or few to few.

A few summers ago I was headed home from work and I saw a Vet walking along the side of the road. I don’t usually pick up people or offer rides to others. In this case, I felt compelled to stop. I had a nice chat and it was a very small thing on my part. Yet, I was thanked several times even though the guy wasn’t going very far (it might have been 3 miles). Small acts of kindness may not make a huge difference in the world; however it will make all the difference in the world to that one individual.

The Starfish Thrower

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”(1)(2)

iron wil

(1) This story was adapted from Loren Eiseley’s “The Star Thrower“.

(2) Adapted story, The Starfish Thrower.

Anacharsis, Play

Play … so that you may be serious.” – Anacharsis

This quote hits home with me personally because I am a very work driven person … A “Type A Personality”.   I don’t remember when I realized that I enjoy working and putting my efforts into my job.  I started working at age 12 as a paperboy and worked off and on until I was about 17 and from then on, I held a steady job since then.  I have gone through a few periods of unemployment and during those times, I was engaged in something aside from looking for a new job.

I leaned in college, while working full-time and going to school full-time, that I needed to take a break.  The first real activity, was building a small retaining wall for an adopted grandmother.  It was hard work and it was in the Texas summer.  I suffered physically from the heat, yet the time off from school that semester did wonders for me.  I was able to go back to school for the Fall Semester renewed.  During my college days, my idea of a vacation was holing up in my apartment for the (holiday) 3 day weekend.  It was enough for me to keep my sanity.  I married in the end of my Senior year at University.

My wife and I moved to the East Coast and I learned about going to the beach for vacation.  Since my marriage, we have taken some kind of a vacation and time off from work except 2011, I did get any kind of break.  I was so stressed and worn out.  This year we are making an extra effort for me to get time off from work and spend that time with family.

In short, we need to take time and play and relax.  We need hobbies and 2nd and 3rd activities that allow us to get away from our jobs and the stress that accompanies them.  “Play … so that you may be serious”.

ironwil