Editor's Note: This column appeared a year ago on another blog. Shortly after that I moved to my own site. But the message remains the same. We should all look at our lives and note that we would not be here had people not showed courage and sacrificed their lives, fortune and sacred honor for us all.
A Soldier's Tribute
I’ve written so many times before that when I’m in a funk and need a fresh perspective on life, I get in my car and drive. And it’s usually west! Today was no different. This Sunday turned out to be one absolutely beautiful day for a drive.
As I drove into Boone, my Christmas tree farm loomed ahead with silhouettes of mountains behind it. Every time I see that “B” on the barn, I dream of the day I’m living there with my cows, my horses, a dog or two, 70˚ summers, and lots and lots of snow in the winter. Oh, I can’t forget this…and lots of fine coffee to keep me warm by the logs in winter and the camp fire in the summer. That’s a dream that’s hard to wake up from. But life goes on…doesn’t it?
After having lunch with my son and spending a $100 at Food Lion because he needed groceries (college kids never get enough food), I headed home. I hate to leave Boone. One day I won’t have to. Just watch me.
Anyway, I put the window down, letting my hair blow in the wind, and turned the radio up to listen to Bon Jovi, Skynyrd, Kenny Chesney, Cindy Lauper and my hubby, Dean, to name a few. I love to hear him sing and I never tell him that enough.
Last but definitely not least, I was sipping a Starbucks Caramel Frappacino that topped it all off! Like I’ve said before, just for awhile…all the ills of the world went away. Life is good.
I, like so many others, too often forget how good I have it. I too often forget to be thankful for the simple stuff, like shelter, food, and water. I too often forget to thank God for my family, no matter how dysfunctional we are at times.
I too often forget that America is still free. Although that concept is rapidly disappearing. I too often forget that I can sleep at night because of those who have died for my freedom and those who still are. I too often forget the families who will wake up on this year’s Memorial Day and have to face the fact their loved ones are gone.
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I too often forget the moms left behind to carry the burden of raising kids without a dad around because he gave his life for me. I too often forget I am free to worship a loving God who freely gave us individual rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.
So today, I want to remember…I want to remember the lonely soldier who misses his family, the soft kisses of his little girl, or the frogs his little boy picks up while they walk. I want to remember our heroes.
Although it’s not Christmas, the poem below is one of the most beautiful portrayals of a soldier’s sacrifice. It was created by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1987 under the title "Merry Christmas, My Friend."
Follow this link, http://www.tankmastergunner.com/silent%20night.htm, to hear the audio (will automatically start). But before you do, grab the tissues. You’ll need them. Without further adieu…
A Soldier's Silent Night
TWAS 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 I DID 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 SOBER 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 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 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 GOD, MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER AND 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."
Dear Lord, please protect the men and women who so gallantly fight for and protect us each and every day. May we never forget their sacrifices. We owe so much to them.
Until next week,