A Soldier's Christmas
 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 eye 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"
 "Its 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 sisters and brothers
 who stand at the front against any and all,
 to insure 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.
Michael Marks
 December 7th, 2000

A Day to Remember
 In crimson hue the missiles flew and cracked the sky asunder,
 while mortars tolled, explosions rolled and shook the ground like thunder.
 Yet in the midst of rockets roar a figure stood alone,
 a grizzled sergeant gazing on the field with eyes of stone.
 He'd heard before the mortars roar in jungles far away,
 and left his blood there in the mud where fallen comrades lay.
 And when it seemed the gates of hell itself had opened wide,
 when every fiber of his being had screamed to run and hide,
 he held his ground and duty bound to country and to Corps
 he faced the final sacrifice as many had before.
 A sudden movement in the night broke through his reverie,
 to drive away old memories he'd just as soon not see.
 On trembling legs a breathless figure dashed across the street
 collapsing on the ground before the grizzled sergeant's feet.
 "Oh Grandpa did you see 'em?" asked the boy with shining eyes,
 "the fireworks are really cool, they almost fill the skies!"
 The sergeant smiled and hugged the boy, a moment most sublime.
 "You bet I did" the sergeant said, "I've seen them many times."
 Then with a kiss on Grandpa's cheek he jumped and dashed away.
 Returning to the magic that was Independence Day.
 And with a gentle sigh the sergeant, flanked on either side
 by sons and daughters, hugged his wife, now thirty years his bride.
 He raised his eyes to heaven where the flag now proudly flew,
 majestic in her billowing of  red and white and blue.
 With hand upon his brow he stood once more in proud salute,
 His love for God and Country ever strong and absolute.

 And thinking back upon those nights so full of pain and fear,
 when locked in mortal combat he was sure his end was near;
 He said a prayer of thanks that God had seen to pull him through
 And given him a life that those who'd fallen never knew.
 With humble heart he took his place with patriots of lore,
 And shared an oath with every soldier that had gone before.
 Should 'eer the call arise to stand for nation, God and friends...
 He knew from deep within his heart he'd do it all again.
 Michael Marks
 While Independence Day is a celebration of the patriotism and sacrifice that
 first gave birth to the United States of America in 1776 it remains a day
 for all Americans to remember the ongoing sacrifices of our Armed Forces
 personnel in their defense of our nation.



Info from the author:

My name is Michael Marks and yes, I am the author of "A Soldier's
 Christmas."  Please feel free to publish, post or distribute this poem as you
 see fit, use it in a speech, etc. ­ it is really something from my heart
 that hopefully would serve as a small chance to give thanks to the many
 heroes that keep us safe all year 'round. In the same vein, I wrote a second
 poem, "A Day to Remember" for the 4th of July, with the intent of creating
 additional poems for Memorial Day, Veteran's Day... I believe that our
 freedoms should be remembered and appreciated every day.
 As a bit of background on "A Soldier's Christmas," it was written on Pearl
 Harbor Day 2000, when our country found itself embroiled in the Election
 That Would Not End. On that day of all days, I was sickened by the very
 notion... the merest suggestion that the votes of our service personnel
 would be discarded or diminished for any reason. If there was anyone who
 more dearly deserved the right to vote, and every special consideration in
 seeing that their vote was counted, it is those who stand the line. I found
 myself thinking about the lone private in a frozen foxhole dug into some
 distant piece of dirt who, far from home at Christmas, heard of such
 absurdity and asked himself "what the hell am I doing out here?" It was a
 sad and miserable image, and I must confess I was ashamed that our country
 could stoop to discussing it as though it had merit. It was in that mood
 that I felt a dire need to express my thankfulness, to just find someone in
 BDUs and say "thank God you're there!." What arose was "A Soldier's
 Christmas." I hope that the result is worthy of those for whom it was
 As it was mentioned in the thread below that the poem may have reached some
 of you in a state of partial completion, I will append both "A Soldier's
 Christmas" and "A Day to Remember" in their entirety. I only ask that if you
 have a chance, you let me know when or where it appears as I am keeping
 something of a scrapbook. I have received wonderful messages from service
 men and women from Alaska to Bosnia, running from eloquent and impassioned
 replies to a simple "Hey bro ­ Semper Fi!"  Some have made me laugh, others
 have left me in tears. I've received mail from moms and dads with children
 on the line, others whose kids never came home. I got a letter from a girl
 who got "a very whole new view of her grandpa" and decided to go visit him
 with flowers and tell him she was proud... Each message brings a warmth that
 defies description. I can only hope that the poem has given out as many
 smiles as it has brought home to me.
 My sincere best wishes to all of you, and my deep thanks for helping to
 share my writing with so many. It is a blessing to write in honor of our
 nation's best and bravest, and a privilege to live in a nation where I am
 free to write. Please know that my words carry to every branch of the
 service my most enduring respect, love, and gratitude.
God Bless America!