Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For those that protect us

Its perhaps a little early for Christmas, and a tad late for Rememberance Day, but a friend sent me this, and I thought it was worth sharing:

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 into 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


At 5:33 PM, Anonymous WriterDude said...

Wysiwyg, I'm long overdue to de-blurk here. This post, however, compels me to borrow the former name of that bloke from Montana and declare myself a "blurker no more". Here and tonight (Colorado time), anyway.

This poem made the e-mail rounds some not-too-distant Christmas ago, as I recall. Quite moving, of course. But for me, it is quite a bit more moving this time round precisely because you, a fine and upstanding citizen (not to mention international ambassador)(ok, in the blog world) of the great land of Australia, saw fit to post it on your blog.

We Yanks have a fine tradition, which dates way back to 1965 or so, of questioning our government during times like these while simultaneously declaring our "support for the troops". All well and good, that; most of us are intelligent enough to see the separation there. But I fear that sensationalized and exaggerated stories about a mere handful of idiots spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam and calling them "baby killers" continue to contribute to a mis-perception that the ordinary American is an ignorant rube, oblivious to the global picture.

So I want to point out three things:

1) As a Yank, I am deeply appreciative of your posting this poem.

2) Most of us Yanks are not what I just described above.

3) The handful of idiots were executed in a Texas prison in 1972. I swear I am making that up.

4) I am your average lying Yank, grabbing more than I am rightfully allowed, by taking this fourth item to say: don't be surprised if a lot of this ends up as the next entry on MY blog. Been dry on material this week.

Cheers, mate!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger wysiwyg said...

Thanks for those thoughts - always good to see someone de-blurk.

By way of a bit of background, I was born in the US, and then travelled to OZ at age 10, and have been here ever since. So, realistically speaking, by now I'm really much more Australian than American, but that doesn't stop me identifying with the US.

For that reason, when I saw the poem, I could see that it largely also applied to our own (Australian) troops in Iraq, and Lord knows I'm grateful for those folk doing their job as much as for the work the US troops undertake.

But it goes a bit deeper for me.

Although I grew up in OZ, I retained my US citizenship. I am the product of a long line of Americans on my Father's side (my mother was Australian who became a naturalised American just before I was born), and we can trace our ancestry back to a minuteman in the American Revolution. Giving up my American citizenship and breaking that linkage with my ancestry just didn't seem right, so I never have.

For that reason I was subject to the US draft, and actually still have my draft card somewhere. I fortunately for me, I suppose, I was never actually called up because the draft for the Vietnam war finished just before I came of age.

But I was VERY aware of the war and old enough to react to the media coverage of it.

As you note, resistance to the war unfortunately found a focus on the returning veterans as well as the Government. I thought that was wrong at the time, and I still do. I think it was reprehensible that the vets were not acknowledged for their sacrifices on behalf of their country, regardless of whether or not the war was deemed to be "right". Mind you, the same thing happened here in Oz.

Of course there has been much comment about that since, and more and more in recent times, the memorials and acknowledgements of the Vietnam vets are flowing through. Better late than never I suppose, but it should never have happened in the first place.

I'm encouraged that the world seems to have learnt its lesson about this. I think the vast majority of people now recognise that it is the Government not the troops that are to be held to account for the wars they enter into.

I'm even more encouraged that, particularly here, the Government goes out of its way to say "You may not agree with us being at war, but lets not confuse that with the tremendous job our soldiers are performing on our behalf".

So all said and done, the poem struck a cord with me, and while I thought it a tad more plaintive that I would hope the troops are acutally feeling, I want to put myself on record as supporting them wholeheartedly for their efforts on behalf of my Government, and through my Government for me.

Thanks again for your thought provoking comment.

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would there be burying and revenge, or rescue?
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