A Soldier’s Christmas Poem


images6666666666666666666

Reposted from poetreecreations

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 me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
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 with my sister and 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.”

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Author: LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN, 20th Naval Construction Regiment

Advertisements

T’was The Night Before Christmas – But Not What You Expect


T’was the night before Christmas,
He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house,
Made of Plaster ad 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 mantel,
Just boots filed 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.

His face was so gentle,
The room in disorder,
Not how I pictured
A true American 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 this Soldier,
Who was willing to fight.

Soon round the world,
The children would play,
And grownups would celebrate,
A bright Christmas day.

They all enjoy freedom,
Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers,
Like the one lying here.

I couldn’t help but 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 did not 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 Peacekeeping soldier stationed overseas. The following is his request. I think it is reasonable.

PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. Please, do your small part to plant this small seed.

God Bless Bennett & Vivian Levins


Here’s a “today” story that occurred just before Christmas 2014.

The idea started last Christmas 2013, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops. “We have to let them know we care,” Vivian told Bennett. So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on December 3. The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it.

Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin – native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish – is one of them. He owns three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard.

One car, the elegant Pennsylvania , carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and 1962. Later, it carried his brother Bobby’s body to D.C. for burial. “That’s a lot of history for one car,” says Bennett. He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators, around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played. The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda , in Maryland . “We wanted to give them a first-class experience,” says Bennett. “Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats – real hero treatment.”

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed’s commanding general, who loved the idea. But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone:

No press on the trip, lest the soldiers’ day of pampering devolve into a media circus.

No politicians either, because, says Bennett, “I didn’t want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op.”

And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.

The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands. “I had to actually make this thing happen,” he laughs. Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country – these people tend to know each other – into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train? The Liberty Limited.

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. – where they’d be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly – then back to their owners later.

Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train track to the football stadium for the game.

A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game – on the 50-yard line – and lunch in a hospitality suite.

And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees:
From Woolrich, stadium blankets.
From Wal-Mart, digital cameras.
From Nikon, field glasses.
From GEAR, down jackets.

There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member. The Marines declined the offer. “They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines,” says Levin, choking up at the memory.

Bennett’s an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he’d react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.’s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GI’s were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day. “They made it easy to be with them,” he says. “They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They’re so full of life and determination.”

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army’s loss to Navy could deflate the group’s rollicking mood.

Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal – heroes get hungry, says Levin – before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda .

“The day was spectacular,” says Levin. “It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it.”

The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station. “One of the guys was blind, but he said, “I can’t see you, but man, you must be beautiful!” ” says Bennett. “I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn’t even answer him.”

It’s been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day’s love. “My Christmas came early,” says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. “I can’t describe the feeling in the air.” Maybe it is hope.

As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, “The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all – whatever the future may bring.”

God bless the Levins!

Freedom is not Free – A Soldier’s Pledge


Thank God for our Veterans and Active Duty Personnel now serving.  Please say a prayer to keep them safe and to heal their wounds, both seen and unseen.

A Sack Lunch


I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. ‘I’m gl I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will
get a short nap,’ I thought.

Just before take-off,
a line of soldiers came down the aisle and
filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding
me. I decided to start a conversation.

‘Where are you
headed?’ I asked the soldier seated nearest to
me. ‘Petawawa. We’ll be there for two
weeks for special training, and then we’re being
deployed to Afghanistan

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was
made that sack lunches were available for five
dollars. It would be several hours before we
reached the east, and I quickly
decided a lunch
would help pass the time…

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if
he planned to buy lunch. ‘No, that seems
like a lot of money for just a sack lunch.
Probably wouldn’t be worth five bucks.
I’ll wait till we get to base.’

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the
other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked
to the back of the plane and handed the flight
attendant a fifty dollar bill. ‘Take a
lunch to all those soldiers.’ She grabbed my
arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with
tears, she thanked me. ‘My son was a soldier in
Iraq ; it’s almost like you are doing it for him.’

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the
soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and
asked, ‘Which do you like best – beef or
chicken?’ ‘Chicken,’ I replied,
wondering why she asked. She turned and went to
the front of plane, returning a minute later
with a dinner plate from first class.

‘This is your thanks.’

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane,
heading for the rest room.
A man stopped me. ‘I saw what you did. I want to
be part of it. Here, take this.’ He handed me
twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned
to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down
the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he
walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but
noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my
side of the plane. When he got to my row he
stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, ‘I
want to shake your hand.’ Quickly unfastening my
seatbelt I stood and took the
Captain’s hand.
With a booming voice he said, ‘I was a soldier
and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought
me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never
forgot.’ I was embarrassed when applause was
heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the
front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A
man who was seated about six rows in front of me
reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He
left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I
gathered my belongings and started to deplane.
Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man
who stopped me, put something in my shirt
pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a
word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the
terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their
trip to the base.
I walked over to
them and handed them seventy-five dollars. ‘It
will take you some time to reach the base.
It will be about time for a sandwich.
God Bless You.’
Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and
respect of their fellow travelers.

As I walked briskly to
my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe
return. These soldiers were giving their all for
our country. I could only give them a couple of
meals. It seemed so little…

A veteran is someone
who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank
check made payable to ‘citizens of United States ‘
for an amount of ‘up to and
including my life.’

That is Honour, and
there are way too many people in this country
who no longer understand it.’