A different Christmas poem

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

30t h Naval Construction Regiment

OIC, Logistics Cell One

Al Taqqadum , Iraq

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim


I gazed round the room and I cherished the


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


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


Standing out in the cold and the dark of the


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


"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


For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in


To the window that danced with a warm fire's


Then he sighed and he said "Its really all


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


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


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


Away from my family, my house and my


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


Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure for all time that this flag will not


"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


"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


For when we come home, either standing or


To know you remember we fought and we


Is payment enough, and with that we will


That we mattered to you as you mattered to