The Gift

December 20

The Gift

Author Unknown

All that is known of this poem is that it was written by a Marine in Okinawa.  That would lead one to believe that it was written during World War II, but when it was written is of no matter, for soldiers have always spent Christmases far from home.  Particularly at this time in our nation’s history, we should pause to think of those who are willing to leave their families and friends to assure the survival of liberty.
T’was the night before Christmas,
he lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house made of
plaster and 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 did I see,
no tinsel, no presents,
not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle,
just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures
of far distant lands.

With medals and badges,
awards of all kinds,
a somber 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.

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 moment 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 started to cry.

The soldier awakened
and I heard a soft 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 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 night’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.”

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