The Night Before Christmas in the Middle East
Back in 1882, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote the famous poem, The Night Before Christmas. Throughout the years, it has become a tradition in many families to read the poem every Christmas season along with watching Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life. Four years ago, I received another poem, referred to as a Different Christmas Poem (author unknown), from a dear friend. This poem described a dream that a gentleman had regarding a soldier standing guard outside his home on a snowy night on Christmas Eve. The poems had me contemplating about our brave men and women in uniform in the Middle East and wondering what they will be doing on Christmas Eve. What will their spouses and children be doing that night while their loved ones are so far away? How does it feel to be 5,000 miles from home sacrificing everything for a country while some Congressional leaders do not support your mission and call you invaders and murderers?
How does it feel to be leaving Iraq now and how can we ensure that those that died did not do so in vain? Our country has never invaded another country to rule it, only to free it. On Normandy Beach in 2002, former President Bush noted that since the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, "our nation's battles have all been far from home. In all those victories, American soldiers came to liberate, not to conquer. The only land we claim as our own are the resting places of our men and women."
This year, I came up with another poem regarding our soldiers who are serving in harm’s way in the Middle East. It consolidates parts of both of the aforementioned poems to make them pertinent to the present-day crisis our armed forces face everyday and are truly the best of the best:
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through my home, not a sound could I hear, not even the phone.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
I flipped on the TV and saw a soldier standing there.
It was a young man, perhaps a Marine, with a desert in the background, it was a lonely scene.
And I thought, ‘He’s so far from home and should be on leave, He should be here with his family on Christmas Eve.’
Then the soldier said, “It’s really all right,
I’m over here by choice; I’m here every night.
It’s my duty to stand, at the front of the line,
That separates all of 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.
Grandpa died at Pearl Harbor one December, then he said, “That’s a Christmas, Grandma always remembers.”
“My dad stood his watch, in the jungles of Nam,
And now it’s my turn, and so here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son, in more than a while,
My wife sends me pictures; he’s sure got her smile.”
Then he bent and carefully, pulled from his bag,
The red, white and blue, an American flag,
He said, “I can live through the heat, and being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand firm at the front, against any and all,
To ensure for all time, that this flag will not fall.”
I wondered how I could repay him, for all he’s done, for being away from his wife, his home and his son?
Then I saw in his eye, a tear that held no regret,
“Just pray for us every day, and never forget.”
For when we come home, it will be payment enough,
To know we mattered to you, as you mattered to us.”
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you,
Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.
Dennis Powers is the TN State Representative for the 36th District which includes Campbell and Union Counties. Send comments to DennisHPowers@Comcast.net or mail them to POB 179, Jacksboro, TN 37757.