Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Different Christmas Poem

I am starting to get into the Holiday spirit but I still can't help but think of my military friends overseas and their families who are left behind celebrating the holidays without their loved one. I remember all too well the day that the fateful phone call came and Terry was selected to go. We had one day to prepare and I think I spent most of that day crying. Thinking about all he was going to miss at home and all the changes that were going to go on while he was gone and how terribly I was going to miss him. Instead as all good military spouses know I sucked it up and told him that I would be okay and that he needed to do this for our country. The country he loves so very much and the very reason he joined the armed forces, to serve and protect! He has always been one to take care of others and look out for them! He would be going for 12 months which could be extended, of course, into more. That night the crying had finally stopped and we spent some last minute time together talking and laughing about things that we had been through in our 17 years as a military family together and about what the future held. Needless to say no sleep was to be had that night with our emotions running high and the stress of the situation at hand. Around 5:30am I got myself showered and dressed to take my hubby to the Station for the last time. He would be getting picked up under high security and flown to his destination in the Middle East at 7am. We drove in silence to the Station trying to prepare for our goodbyes which for us is "till I see you again". I kissed him and held him tight and then let him of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life!! I drove home in tears, having to pull over a few times because I couldn't see. I told myself that I needed to be a big girl and suck it up but dang it, it hurt! I thought of all the thousands of military spouses and family that had and were going through this very same thing! I sent a prayer out to comfort them and help them to not feel so alone because at that moment I felt completely and utterly alone. Even though I knew I was far from being alone! I made it home finally and as I was shutting the garage door down I could hear the phone ringing! Who could it be? I rushed inside to grab it quick and who was on the other end but Terry!! At first all I could think was "Baby, please don't make this any harder"! He sounded really shook up and proceeded to tell me that a young man without a family, who had all the qualifications that Terry had, had actually requested to go in Terry's place!!!! OMG!!! What the heck!!! I was totally blown away!! This young man was someone we had never even met in our military career and he wanted to go in place of my husband and the powers that be had decided that he could go instead!!! Talk about an emotional roller coaster!! Too many of my fellow spouses have not had such luck as we did that day and I think about them every day and the sacrifice they make on a daily basis!! I want to thank that young man from the bottom of my heart and let him know that a day doesn't go by that I don't remember him and prayer for him! To all the men and women of our armed forces who give up literally everything to protect and serve a country they love I thank you!! I know first hand that it takes a really special individual to do what they do!!! So, without further ado this poem is for you!!! "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 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." 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 our U.S 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. LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN 30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC, Logistics Cell One Al Taqqadum, Iraq Happy Holidays, Tracy


Cricket said...

What a wonderful story had me in tears!


Carla said... goodness....Im sitting here with tears in my eyes, and chills up and down my spine....