DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth

24 December 1996

ON CHRISTMAS DAY ALL IS SECURE

A Christmas tribute for the men and woman of our armed forces who serve our country so unselfishly from South Korea to Haiti to Bosnia and in eighty nine other nations around this troubled globe:

'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, HE LIVED 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 HOUSE DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT, A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS, NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKINGS 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 SOLDIER, ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER 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 SOLDIER.

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 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 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 SOLDIER 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 SOLDIER 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 SOLDIER ROLLED OVER, WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, "CARRY ON, SANTA, IT'S CHRISTMAS, ALL IS SECURE."

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH, AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT,
MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.

BY: US ARMY MAJOR BRUCE LOVELY, ADOPTED FROM A SIMILAR POEM, ANONYMOUS

As over 250,000 of our warriors guard the mean streets of the new world disorder, here's another piece to think about during this Christmas week when for many of us our biggest worry is "What's in it for me?" or "Did I spend too much?"

"IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE POET,
WHO GIVES US FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE REPORTER,
WHO GIVES US FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.

IT IS THE SOLDIER, NOT THE CAMPUS ORGANIZER,
WHO GIVES US FREEDOM TO PROTEST.

IT IS THE SOLDIER WHO SERVES BENEATH THE FLAG,
WHO SALUTES THE FLAG, AND WHOSE COFFIN IS DRAPPED BY THE FLAG,
WHO GIVES THE DEMONSTRATOR THE RIGHT TO BURN THE FLAG."

FATHER D.E. O'BRIEN

I hope your holidays are the greatest and that in 1997 you find the time to ponder why we have forces in 92 countries around the world and are spending over $300 billion annually on defense when there's not one serious enemy in sight.