Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas for the troops

We often forget how difficult the holidays can be for our troops and their families, but it's doubly hard for those families who lost someone in combat. Here's a great poem from Major Dad (via Smash) reminding us of the difficult lives our troops choose in order to protect us and promote freedom around the world (who knew he was such a great poet):

Twas the night before Christmas, the house seemed so sad,
Early this year, this family lost "Dad."
He’d been a soldier, in Afghanistan serving,
To help people live free, now thankful, deserving.

His wife and the kids have cried a river of tears,
They had known this could happen, through all of the years.
It’s a dangerous business, no place for wimps.
Some don’t come home, some others with limps.

As I slipped down the chimney, I really did dread…
That I’d fall straight apart in this house with war dead.
I crept from the hearth, wondering what would I see,
What my eyes would behold, in this land of the free.

The home was decorated, with the tree and some lights
The milk, plate of cookies, and some other tasty bites.
Next to this was a note, from the boys up in bed,
I picked the page up and here’s what it said.

"Dear Santa we know that you’re busy and need to be speedy
So we’ll keep it short, we don’t want to sound greedy.
You know already that our Daddy’s not here,
He went to heaven, that's perfectly clear.

Tonight as you travel across the cold Christmas skies.
We want you to help, take the tears from the eyes.
Of the other kids missing a Mom or a Dad.
Please help them to realize that it’s not so bad.

Our Dad died doing what was just, what was right.
His nation had called him, to head off to the fight.
To free the oppressed and protect us all here,
He went with a smile, a heart without fear.

One month ago, we had gotten the news
An airplane was missing, along with its crew.
Up in the mountains with weather so cold,
One of the missing, our daddy…a pilot, so bold.

Later we learned that God had called him that day
He needed a pilot, so tough and so brave.
We cried and we cried, the tears would not cease,
Daddy’s West Point friends wrote, "Mike…be thou at peace."

We need your help Santa, for our Mommy tonight,
She misses him so, they were so tight.
All we want for Christmas is for her to be happy,
Knowing Daddy still watches over us, a flier so scrappy."

Could I help these kids? I scratched my old head.
I snuck up the stairs and found Mom in bed.
Her eyes were still red, it was plain she’d been crying.
But a smile on her face, in her dreams she was flying.

Along with her pilot…her husband…her mate…
This lady was special, so obviously great.
My task wasn’t tough, really it ain’t.
After all, my name is Nicholas and I am a saint!

I straightened my suit, combed back my long hair…
Then as quiet as a mouse, I pulled up a chair.
I touched her calm face and closed tight my eyes…
My mind it was reeling, I started to cry.

Then inside my head, I heard a soft voice…
"Santa it’s Mike. Buck up, you don’t have a choice.
You know where I am…and I’ll tell you quite clear,
If I can’t have Christmas there…it’s not so bad being here.

I’m no longer with them, they know that it’s true,
That doesn’t mean I can’t see what they do.
When you pray for my wife and my kids Christmas night,
Let them know I’m on duty and I am alright.

My crew's here too and we’re flying tonight…
Take a look over your shoulder, make it your right!
You need to be careful. You need to "check six."
That’s us behind you…Chief, give the lights a few flicks."

Santa it’s time:
Your job here is through…
The night’s not half over,
you’ve still plenty to do.

No need to worry, you need to be quick.
They’re in great hands, Jeanette’s got the stick,
You prayed for them all and showed them the way,
A soldier still stands guard over them every day."

I knew Mike was right,
it was getting late.
The world only half covered,
I just couldn’t wait.

I stopped by the rooms of each of his boys…
I had to be careful to avoid clothes and some toys.
Mike Jr., Thomas, and Ricky lay snug in their beds…
I gave this blessing to each as I touched their heads.

"Your daddy was special,
fighting for peace.
May you boys be spared from combat
when all conflicts have ceased."

With that I took leave from this Hawaiian home,
Through the skies I’d be flying, though not alone.
I did look back a number of times, more than a few.
And yes, on the horizon was my escort crew.

Across the world tonight, I saw the same scenes,
Homes full of sorrow, homes full of need.
After you read this, give it some thought.
Can I be happy with just what I’ve got?

Dig deep into your pockets, you’ve got spare cash.
Drop it in the kettle; it’ll help tighten your sash.
It will make you feel good; it will make you feel right…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all….a good night!

Amen Major! Very well done!