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?

Continue reading “The Soldier’s Night Before Christmas” »

un … super … man


***SPOILER ALERT***

If you haven’t seen Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and plan on seeing it STOP HERE!

Batman v. Superman

I am a huge comic book fanboy … with the exception that I stopped reading comics in 1997. Admittedly, I have watched the movies and even thumbed through comics … I needed to change my focus in life and I chose to give up something I loved for something greater (because someone might ask). As I sat with anticipation to see the film play, I reflected on my love of great heroes. I cleared my mind and relaxed.

The movie played along and things bugged me. Then Lex told Superman to kill Batman or your mother dies. Next Superman says, something that basically indicated that to save his mom, he would kill Batman. WHAT!!! That is NOT Superman!!! He would use his powers to locate his mother while either listening to Lex or flying off to convince Batman to work with him to save lives. Not, um okay … I’ll kill him for you.

On the way home from the movies, my compadre and I discussed the movie. The point we came to quickly was that the modern take on superheroes is the anti-hero. Which is rubbish!

All growing up, one of the things that made the superheroes awesome was that while they aren’t prefect, they lived by a code of morals, values, and principles. For example, Batman did not use firearms and would not kill his enemies. He also NEVER went after some with distinct purpose of killing them!!! Superman would NEVER bend to the will of his enemies, he would always seek to solve the problem another way!!! Especially, if that meant people lived and the bad guy still came to justice!

Along this same vein, I recently watched Justice League: WAR, an animated Justice League movie. In this PG-13 rated film many of the superheroes curse. Now, if you can’t tell, this really changed the feel of the film. While the story was good, I was distracted by the word choices of our beloved heroes.

If you can’t tell, this change to the heroes of my youth is saddening. It is a change that shows how much the world has changed in the last 20 years. It is a change that means my boys will not be able to watch some shows or films until they are older and can understand that some of these changes are not reflective of who and what these superheroes are to me; that they are a reflection of the world and how it is different than when I was a comic book fanboy.

iron wil

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).

Superman

Well, for starters, there are only 3 Superman movies for me. Superman: The Movie, Superman II, and Man of Steel. Now, that I got that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Superman was created by 2 Jewish kids in Cleveland in 1933. It wasn’t until 1938 that he was published in Action Comics, from there his popularity and followers grew. I was introduced to Superman via Superman: The Movie … at least that is the first recollection of Superman in my life. I became a comic book reader in the early 90’s when I started reading Iron Man after my dad had finished with it. From there I picked up a lot of different comic books and really finding the characters that resonated with me. Superman was one of those heroes. His impeccable character and clean language became a roll model for me; not that I was great at it. I mean really what kid can be like Superman? However, one standard that he set for himself became ingrained in me. The importance of high standards; my mother, in frustration, told me once that my standards were so high Superman couldn’t keep them. I was of course proud of myself … and then I realized that my mistake was expecting everyone else to have the same standards. It caused me some pain and frustration until I learned to not push my standards on others. They are mine and I own them 100%.

Superman really did set a high standard for superheroes and for those who would live after his creation. His example of truth, justice, and the American way influenced generations. These ideals still stir my heart and cause me to be a little nostalgic. Now, because of Superman’s high standards, I posit those superheroes that followed in the comic books also came with high standards. They all had different powers and abilities; however, they were all law abiding citizens.

One of my favorite things about Superman, is his restraint. This can be seen most recently in Man of Steel; as the movie wraps Zod and Superman are fighting. They end up in a metro or train station underground. Zod tells Superman,”If you love these people so much you can morn for them”. then Zod fires up his heat vision and starts tracking the family. Superman pleaded with him to stop and of course he doesn’t. Superman then tells him to stop and Zod responds, “never”. Superman then closes his eyes and makes a decision. he breaks Zod’s neck and the cries out in anguish for he has killed the only other living Kryptonian. Throughout his career as a superhero, Superman has always tried to hold of on killing his enemies. He has held it as the tactic of last resort because of his moral grounding. Lex Luther calls him the Big Blue Boy Scout because of the traits and values that Superman holds and displays. I will admit that this is one of my favorite monikers for him by one of his enemies.

Superman is the greatest superhero of all time and if you are looking for a storyline that really features this, you should check out Kingdom Come.

My life has been influenced by the comics that I read and grew to love. They taught me that sometimes the pain is worth it. They taught me to never give up. They also taught me that my parents had started me on a path to being a good person. I made mistakes and when I decided to start living a christian life, I needed their inspiration and stories to help me have the courage to do what was right and change myself. Today my kids are learning about superheroes and they have started to learn how wonderful these stories can me. They also are held to high standards because I learned that we have to have something to reach for. I know that I expect more from them than they can consistently deliver. I have been rewarded with their successes. More importantly they are reaping the rewards of reaching for goals that are set just a little out of their reach. I am proud of them and one day, they will know their own success and be better men for it.

 iron wil

Han Solo

I wrote a post (actually 2) about heroes and today seemed like the perfect day to talk about one of them. Han Solo, scoundrel and smuggler turned hero! I have to admit that I once thought Han Solo was the coolest guy in the galaxy. When we played Star Wars my brother chose to be Luke & I would be Han. This is how it was.

I liked that he was brash, quick on the draw, confident, and sure of himself. He knew himself and what he could do! Remember this line? “Never tell me the odds!” Some would say that Han is just another American Cowboy, in a galaxy far, far away; and maybe to some that is all he will be. Rough and disheveled; brave, courageous, and even “happy go lucky”. Well that is how I saw him and like every other boy my age, I wanted to be just like him. Well, okay, not every other boy … maybe just some of the SciFi nerds wanted to be him.

One of my favorite scenes is when he took the tauntaun out on Hoth to find Luke! He new full well that they both could freeze to death and he still went. As the story goes, he found Luke and cut open his tauntaun to keep Luke alive in order to have time to erect a shelter and keep them both safe. I like that Han and Luke became friends, that despite their different experiences they could work together and over come the odds placed before them.

iron wil