I saw this poem (a variation on the Night Before Christmas poem that so many of us know) just after Christmas. It was too late to post, but I think it applies equally well to Memorial Day. I invite you to read it and my comments. Then spend some time this holiday weekend reflecting on those who gave their last full measure of devotion so that we might have and keep the freedoms we have…

A Soldiers 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.

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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 “It’s 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.”

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Then with nothing more than a shuffle of his shoulders
and a shack of his head. The young turned once more to
face the cold dark night. Away from my family and his to
the horrors of the fight. I watched as he wondered deep into
the cold night to stand his lonely watch one more time.
Like his father before him and his grandfather too I knew
this young man would one day die in a far off land. Once
more I remember the words of a great man. Never before
have so many owed so much to so few.

 

I don’t know about you, but reading it brought me to tears. While it has always been the youth of our society that has been asked to fight, and if necessary, die in service for their country (no matter which country they/we reside in), since the 1970s, in the USA, it has been an all-volunteer force. Thus, each person who serves now makes a conscious choice to serve and sacrifice. And the sacrifice is not limited only to those serving but applies to their loved ones as well, who spend years apart from their spouses and children.

Many indeed have given their all—and to them, we owe a debt of gratitude, one that can never truly be fully repaid. Some die a physical death on the battlefield; some later, as a result of their battle scars; and sadly, far too many by their own hands because of the mental stress of what they witnessed and experienced. Things so horrific that words alone can’t describe them. We owe it to our veterans and their families to take care of them and NOT forget them once their active service has been completed. We need to ensure they have the best medical service available; we need to remember them and to TELL AND SHOW them that they are NOT alone. We have their backs just as they had ours. There is an organization that I came across in someone’s Facebook “birthday fundraiser” called Stop Soldier Suicide (https://stopsoldiersuicide.org). They provide help in the prevention of soldiers (past & present) from spiraling into depression and suicide. Many times, companies such as Amazon or others will match recurring donations. I made a one-time donation, then a small recurring donation myself.

“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.”

Those words are a challenge to each of us. Many of our members served, and many more had family who did. Let us not forget their sacrifice! Our community knows how important the freedom we enjoy to be ourselves—freedom that only exists because of those who stood up for them. So, if you’re inclined, take some time to visit a local military cemetery or reach out to the widow or children of a vet you may know. Go to a local VA, VFW or American Legion facility and thank them for their service; make a donation to a charity of your choice to support our vets. Particularly, in the case of our older vets from WW2 and Korea who are dying at a rate of 224/day. Their numbers are already down to 150,000 or so, and within three years or fewer, it will be a third of that number. Listen to their stories; let them know we appreciate their service; tell them we love them. Don’t wait till the only way they will hear your words is over their gravesite.

 

From me personally, I say a profound and humble, “Thank you,” to each of you who served or had family who is or did. Especially to those who lost their service member already. I love you; I remember you; and I am eternally grateful for the freedom I have that you fought for (and in some cases died for.)

Don’t ever think you are alone!

Love,

Cyn

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Kris Burton
Lady
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Beautiful and profound Cyn – thank you for posting!

Marg Produe
Lady
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Hey Cyn, Thanks again for reminding us that it’s more than just a day for cookouts. Hugs, Marg

Heller
Lady
Active Member
1 year ago

Beautiful.. I have quite a few veterans in my family. God bless their souls.

Harriette
Lady
Active Member
1 year ago

There is more that you can do every two years, too.

Elect proper politicians who will actually do the right thing for your military personnel, pay them sufficiently and care for them, and boot out the ones who don’t or who are corrupt.

Soon, I hope to inherit my grandfather’s 48 star US flag. We’re not certain, but it may have come from his WW1 service ship.

Angela Booth
Member
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Beautiful.

Fiona Black
Baroness
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Very well said Cyn.

Kathryn Lynn Peters
Lady
Active Member
1 year ago

Excellent post, Cyn. My brother and I are veterans from the Vietnam Era and my father was a WWII veteran. We’ve lost friends who served so I bristle whenever I hear “Happy Memorial Day." There is nothing happy about their sacrifices! We will NEVER FORGET THEM! And to all CDH sisters who served, I salute you!

AnnaBeth Black
Duchess
Trusted Member
1 year ago

God bless our fallen soldiers and their families who sacrificed so much we could be safe.

Michelle Wayne
Duchess
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Thank you for posting this. Veterans seldom get the thanks and respect long term they so deserve, Michelle

Stephanie Bass
Member
Active Member
1 year ago

Thank you Cyn for the post and thanks for all that have served us in past present and future.. As you girls here know that my son in in army been there 11 years and just re uped for another 8 just returned home from Romania from a year stent there so proud of him and all the girls we have here that have served god bless you all ..
Again thanks Cyn for your post..
Stephanie Bass

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