A marine's Christmas

Friday, December 16, 2005

As the holidays approach, many Nevadans are thinking about soldiers far from home -- particularly those in war-torn Middle Eastern countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

A number of them have sent messages back and forth, to new and old friends. One local resident, Sam Brooks, Nevada, says they've got a message for one another and for folks back home as well.

Brooks said he regularly communicates with United States Marine Corps Master Sgt. Keith G. Collins.

"My message is always to assure them their efforts and sacrifices are acknowledged and appreciated by all those here at home regardless of our political biases and feelings about the current situation, and that they are not forgotten," Brooks said in a recent letter.

Brooks offered the Daily Mail a poem, which, according to the many e-mail addresses and notations also attached, must have made the rounds of many families and communities, and with it the request that it be shared with as many as possible.

"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 U.S Marine, once I could see clearly.

The Marine 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 Marine.

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 Marines 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 Marines, 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 Marine 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 Marine 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 Marine 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."

-- Nevada Daily Mail