Christmas Poem: ponder this one

December 2, 2008

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts…

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said, “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates 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.
My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.”
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
“I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

Written by: Michael Marks

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A special thank you to Debbi at Debbi’s Dribble for sharing this absolutely beautiful poem. Debbi has requested this poem be passed along, I could not agree more. These words are far too important; they need to be shared.

May Almighty God bless each and every Airman, Soldier, Sailor and Marine.

Thanks to Debbi and Airman mom, so glad we can keep this one going!

Christmas packages during Deployment: get those Kids involved!

November 20, 2008

On the occasion of our sons first deployment, I could not stand that he would miss Christmas. I set up the tree, filled the stockings, cooked the turkey and baked the pies…all in October. (our new book We Serve Too!2, soon to be released ,mentions this!) This year, we have to do what most military families are doing, thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving. I am not an expert at packing Chritmas boxes, but lots of good ideas can be had at the link below: The point of this blog is to encourage you to include your children in creating the boxes that will be shipped to your service member! Kids love Christmas, kids love packages and kids love their deployed parents! This is an opportunity to teach them that the giving is truly the best part of the season, by making them major players in filling the box.

My grandchidren and I spent last night , getting the giggles and outright laughter as we recorded a message to Daddy on his recordable Christmas card from Hallmark. Ours plays jingle bells after the sweet voices of his kids shout “Merry Christmas Daddy!” The giggles came into play as we had to practice this short message, and then try the recording 4 or 5 times before we got it right! After we had it the way we wanted it, we pretended to be Daddy opening his card. This was a bit sobering, and we could feel the great pleasure he would get from this ( and a tear for me ). The children worked on some home made cards and artwork to add to the box. We had filled his camosock (see my post on camosock, it has a link) and made sure that the sunscreen his 4 year old had insisted on was in there. We added the nutcracker dressed in combat gear, and used tootsie rolls for packing peanuts. The kids were thrilled with the idea that Daddy would get this heartfelt gift, a peice of ourselves was in there. Merry Christmas Daddy! Enjoy your holidays and make sure to get those kids involved!

If I Ever go to War: by PFC Johnathan W. Guffey

November 18, 2008

If I ever go to war…
If I ever go to war Mom, Please don’t be afraid.
There are some things I must do, To keep the promise that I made.
I’m sure there will be some heartache, And I know that you’ll cry tears,
But your son is a Soldier now, Mom, There is nothing you should fear.
If I ever go to war Dad, I know that you’ll be strong.
But you won’t have to worry, Cause you taught me right from wrong.
You kept me firmly on the ground, yet still taught me how to fly.
Your son is a Soldier now Dad, I love you Hooah, Even if I die.
If I ever go to war Bro, There are some things I want to say.
You’ve always had my back, and I know it’s my time to repay.
You’ll always be my daybreak, through all of life’s dark clouds,
Your brother is a Soldier now, Bro, I promise I’ll make you proud.
If I ever go to war Sis, don’t you worry bout me,
I always looked out for you, but I can’t do that anymore,
Cause I’m a big bro to all in America.
I love you so much and you know that, Your brothers a soldier now Sis,
So wipe your eyes, I’ll be fine even if I die.
If I ever go to war my Friends, We’ll never be apart,
Though we may not meet again, I’ll hold you in my heart.
Remember all the times we had, Don’t let your memories cease,
Your friend is a Soldier now, Dear Friend, And I’ll die to bring you peace.
And when I go to heaven, And see that pearly gate,
I’ll gladly decline entrance, Then stand my post and wait.
I’m sorry Sir I can’t come in, I’m sort of in a bind,
You see I’m still a Soldier Sir, So I can’t leave them behind.

By PFC Jonathan W. Guffey – Alpha Company
101st Airborne 2/506th Infantry Air Assault – Iraq 2006
10 July 2006

Veterans Day…Talk to Your Kids about our Heroes

November 12, 2008

Veterans Day, a day we remember all who have served and are serving now. Our prayers rise to God with special thanks for each of them, and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice , families that live with the daily reminders of loss on the behalf of our nation. Yesterday I attended our local celebration of Veterans Day. In our town we have a veterans memorial. A few hundred gathered there for music, a flyover, speeches by veterans who served in WWII and Vietnam. A young man who had just returned from the sands of Iraq spoke to us about the men fighting this war now, he said we are in good hands.

My one disappointment was that there were not many kids there. I encourage you parents and teachers to think a bit ahead of Veterans Day to see what the community is doing. As I stood there listening to our military heroes recount their days of service, I was thinking that our little ones should be getting the benefit of knowing that freedom requires sacrifice. As I watch (in awe) the flyover thundering under the blue Colorado sky, I thought that little ones hearts would pound with the excitement of “really cool planes”,and a parent could talk about the power our country has for defending good in the world. As I viewed rows of flags and names etched in stone, I thought that our little ones need to see the symbols of our nation. As I listened to the music, I wondered if they know the songs of the United States of America.

Some days are ment to live, not study. I asked my first grade grandaughter today what her class did for Veterans Day. “I did a worksheet Gramma”.

Next year she will be by my side at the memorial that bears the name of her father as an active soldier deployed to Iraq. She and her brother will be there for the flags and the music and the speeches. No more worksheets for my little ones.

Here is a video of first graders at Ft. Sill. Nearly all of them have a deployed parent. The shirts are cute, the voices sweet…enjoy ! Ft.Sill kids on veterans day

Kids:The Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance

November 8, 2008

Some of you parents out there will assume that your children will learn the National Anthem and the Pledge a Allegiance in school, we did! This is not necessarily the case, so kids may want to know about Francis Scott Key , who penned the words to our national anthem while watching a battle between America and England. He saw the flag of our nation still standing in the early morning light and wrote the words by inspiration there. Look around next time you are at a ballgame…do the people stop? Do they put their hand over their heart? Do they seem to know the words? As military families we need to teach these signs of respect and allegiance to the next generation. Here are the words to our National Anthem :

The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight;
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The words to the Pledge of Allegience

I pledge allegiance
to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one nation,
under God,
with liberty
and justice for all.

Talk to kids about the words. the meaning and what a pledge is, it is a promise to be faithful to the country they enjoy. I think that there is much American bashing, an attitude of those who call themselves progressives, that this nation is inferior to others . It is not. Let’s teach our children what is worth fighting for. In Jeremiah 15 it is said that we must decide what is important and what is worthless. Read it, and then take inventory.

Here is another place to see original documents and quotes form the founding fathers…decide by the documents themselves what was being said. It is also a good place to go if you feel a little rusty on American History! :

A young boy is surprised by Daddy's Homecoming

November 2, 2008

If you wonder how young children of our deployed service members feel, watch this. Welcome home!

Dear Mr. Obama…

Many of you have already seen this one, but I had to post it. I think everyone should see it. If you want to show a child what a hero is, this is a good place to start.

KIDS :Teach them about our country's history/The Flag

October 28, 2008

This is an amazing election year and so many things hang in the balance. We have many areas where we can talk to children about what this country stands for, the freedoms that we enjoy and the truth that it takes brave men and women to protect those freedoms. Children today have little idea, of what a sacrifice really is, or why it might be necessary to make one.

If you are a military family, why do you serve? Have you shared your reasons with your kids? If you are a civilian family have you talked to your children about the sacrifices of self, time with family, the things we take for granted, that military families make?

Children need to know that freedom is certainly not free. Never has been.

Maybe a good place to start is with the flag that represents our country. Here are things to know about the flag of the United States of America:

*The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies.

*Each star represents one state that is part of the United States.

* The colors of the flag are Red: Hardiness, Valor and Bravery.

White: Purity and Innocence. Blue: Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice. Talk with your children about the meaning of these words.

Teach children the right way to display the flag:

*Never let the flag touch the ground or floor

*If it is displayed on a wall, the blue field whould be on the left side.

*If displayed outside it should be illuminated, if not , only display it from dawn to dusk.

*The flag should be raised quickly and taken down slowly and ceremoniously.

When you are somewhere and the national anthem is played, make sure you stop, face the flag and place out right hand over your heart. Children observe what is important to you, and it becomes important to them.

Be sure to VOTE, your kids see what you do, it is important to exercise the rights that brave Americans have fought to protect!

Phone calls from War… instead of Letters

September 21, 2008

Finally! I finally got to talk to our son after missing his first three calls. If you are the mother, wife, grandmother, sister ,of a soldier, sailor airman or marine, you know what I am saying. Missing those calls are the worst! (men, I know you all miss your sons, but you do handle it differently)

I came home the first time from the grocery store to hear his voice on the answering machine “we’re here, doing fine, love ya all!” …I cried for an hour! I was glad he was fine, and where he needed to be, but I wanted that moment of real connection. Then it happened again! I cannot stay in the house for a whole year, but I was thinking about it! Finally he got through and I was home, Praise God! I could barely hear him for some reason, like a faint voice in the distance. He could hear us fine, but it sounded like we were talking on one of those phones we had as a kid, you know, the tin can with a string? Not that I’m complaining.

Speaking of phones, I got one this week, the ATT Go Phone, for my granddaughter and grandson. Their mom works, and I wanted my son to be able to get them if they are at daycare , with their nana, or wherever. So I got the phone, and now I don’t know if I buy the phone card for them, or for my son? The people who sold me the phone seem to need time to figure this out. If you have tried this for a deployed parent, could you let me know if it worked well? I’ll pass on the good and bad of it as we live it out so if you are having the same concerns we can figure it out together! The phone cards are only good for a limited time , 30 or 90 days depending on the amount on the card. If you buy a hundred dollar card it is good for a year, so that is the route I am going. Now I just have to hope that if it is the grandchildren that have the card, it isn’t used to call Disneyland or someone in Timbuktu.

I guess I am old fashioned, I would love letters that I could pull out and read, but that would of course be dependent on a son who would actually write one, so I need to rethink that. Writing has never been a favorite activity of his.

Families now can get a call once a week or more. This is wonderful in one way, and difficult in another. You are always in that limbo of missing calls, or wanting more. It makes me wonder about how that is for our troops too. Is it distracting to hear often from the home front about all the little trial life brings, and does it cause them to have their mind a bit more at home and less on the job at hand?

I struggle with the thought of those that get bad news, or hear complaints from home and are then left to digest that when they cannot do a thing about it. I think it is important for us at home to contemplate that.

Should we tell a deployed loved one every difficulty at home? I don’t think so. I think that we need to remember that they need to have their head in the game, and we need to help them with that.

In the old days everyone was part of it. “Loose lips sink ships” we were warned, and now the media nearly lays out our battle plans for the enemy. Children used to gather metal scraps while mom was Rosie the Riviter. Grandma tended the victory garden… and the country was at war.

Now we are here, but not as involved. Life goes forward, and short of those of us with a loved one in harms way, barely know we are at war. Kit up all of you! We are important in this fight too, send things to our troops, keep the home fires burning, pray for our service members and be proud of the United States of America, it is an extraordinary nation!

Goodbye from far away

September 10, 2008

Like many of his brothers in arms, our son will board a plane today and we will not be there. A few hundred miles lay between us, and I will not get the hug as he leaves on that plane taking him across the sea to a foreign place. I say my goodbye from far away.

This started me thinking of the things we take for granted that our warriors don’t:

Things we forget to even whisper a prayer of thanks for, becasue they are the norm . Things like, a private warm shower, looking into the fridge to see what we “feel like” eating , taking a walk through a neigborhood without fear of being shot at, watching our children play in relative safely. We take for granted that we can make a mistake and it will only be an inconvenience (well, if you are a doctor or a few other things ,maybe not) but our military has the job of split second decisions that can cost a life, maybe theirs.

As we go about our normal days, maybe we should take a few moments to whisper a prayer of thanks for all this country affords us. A prayer of thanks that we live in the greatest nation in the world and a prayer of thanks for the men and women who every day put on a uniform ,and go out to defend all that we hold dear.

So goodbye from far away, to our son! We will miss you, we love you, and please be careful out there!