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January 5, 1998

Opinion

'Twas the night before Christmas

  'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone, in a one room hut, made of plaster and stone.
   I had come down the chimney, with presents to give, and to see who in this home here did live.
   I looked all about, a strange sight did I see, no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
   No stocking by the mantel, just bags filled with sand, on the wall hung the maps of a far distant land.
   With computer and radios, and guns of all kinds, a sobering thought came to my mind.
   For this house was different, it was dark, it was dreary, 'twas the house of a soldier, that I could see clearly.
   The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone, curled up on the floor, of this cold lonely home.
   The face it looked hard, but the room in such order, just how one would picture a United States soldier.
   Was this a hero, someone had said? Curled up on a poncho, cold floor for a bed.
   I realized the families I saw on 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 lie alone, on a cold Christmas Eve, so far from their home.
   That very thought, brought a tear to my eye, I dropped down 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, who could ask for more?
   My life is my family, my country, my force."
   The soldier rolled over, and drifted to sleep, I couldn't control it, I started to weep.
   I kept watch for hours, so silent, so still, until we both shivered, from the cold Winter's chill.
   I hated to leave, on that cold, dark night, this Guardian of Honor, so willing to fight.
   The soldier rolled over, with a voice clear and pure, and said "Carry on Santa, this night is secure."
   One look at my watch, and I knew he was right, Merry Christmas my friend, my thanks , and good night...
   U.S. Army SSG Robert Venters, Duvall
   Stationed in Coralici, Bosnia