Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all a lone,
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 the home did live.
I looked all about - a strange sight did I see.
No tinsel. No presents - not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges - awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought came to my mind.
For this house was different - so dark and so dreary.
The home of a solider I'd found....once I could see clearly.
I'd heard stories about them. I had to see more.
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping; silent...alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one bedroom home.
His face was so gentle. His room in disorder.
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up in his poncho - the floor for a bed?
His head was clean shaven. His weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
Owed their lives to these men 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 soldiers like this one, laying right here.
I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve so far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I 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, country, family and Corps."
With that he rolled over and drifted back into sleep.
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours - so silent, so still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.
So I took off my jacket - the one made of red.
And I covered this soldier from his toe to his head.
And I put on his t-shirt of gray and of black,
With and eagle and Army patch embroidered on back.
And although it'd not fit, my heart swelled with pride.
For one shining moment I was US Army inside.
I didn't want to leave him on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over and whispered with a voice clean and pure,
"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.
~Lt. Col. Bruce Lovely, USAF