The Night Before Christmas -- For a Soldier

From my files dated 1992* -- and, sadly, it's still precisely as appropriate now as it was then.

With Medals And Badges, Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sobering Thought Came To My Mind.

For This House Was Different, So Dark And So Dreary,
The Home Of A Soldier, Now I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping, Silent, Alone.
Curled Up On The Floor In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle, The Room In Such Disorder;
Not How I Pictured A United States 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 These Soldiers Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon 'Round The World, The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers, Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn't Help 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 I 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 Rifle, My Country, My Corps."

The Soldier Rolled Over And Soon 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 Evening's Chill.

I Didn't 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.

- - -
* (First published in Leatherneck magazine, December 1991. It was written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt, who was stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote it in 1986. Contrary to online urban legends, it was not written on a battlefield -- not in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan -- but in our nation's capital city.)

Posted December 24, 2010

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