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When I first got the email titled ‘A Different Christmas Poem‘, back in November, I had a hard time reading it toward the end from the poem due to all the tears I had to keep wiping away.  

I am able to go into my room and climb into a warm bed at night because of what these men and women do, every day; without question. They sleep where they can, sometimes in a barracks, sometimes in a tent on a cot, and often, out in the open - on hard ground.

They may sleep, but they close their eyes, wondering if they will ever open them again. They sleep, but their sleep is light, as they’ve been conditioned to awaken to the slightest noise, their subconscious on a constant alert to danger. They dream, but their dreams are of home, of loved ones that they wonder if they will ever be able to see again. Or, they dream, but their dreams are those of our worst nightmares. But, they have lived their nightmares...

They see the news that the liberal media broadcasts throughout the world via satellite, wondering how that reporter that had spent so long with them could skew their words, given in trust and confidence that what they meant would be accurately represented, only to be disillusioned. They become angry at the injustice of knowing that they are being represented by many as ‘baby killers‘... shades of Vietnam, memories resurfacing with our warriors of decades ago, who came home to jeers and name calling.

They know, even if we don’t see it because of the biased slant which is all it seems our news will show, that there is much good that they contribute to.

They know, because they are there... on their own time they play soccer with Iraqi boys, or children in whatever country spread around the globe they may find themselves in, that even if they can’t speak the language, that in sports there is but one language. And, smiles and laughter are universal.

They know, when they go out and share the care packages which they received from home, with the children who have nothing, to see the smiles on their faces. They know, because they will pull out their own wallets to buy small things from the exchange that they can give to young, eager hands held out, at the other end of which is a smiling face of hope. They give their time, of their sweat, of their funds, and of their generous hearts. By seeing how little others have, they more appreciate their own country and their own homes no matter how humble, more so than ever!

They know, when they roll up their sleeves to lay brick, using mortars that are constructive rather than destructive. They know, as they see the fruit of their labor, with new schools, homes and hospitals, that they are building not just structures, but relationships, and hope for a better future.

They know, when they hold an injured child, orphaned by the tragedy of war, that even though they cannot speak to the child through their mouth so that they can be understood, that through their touch, they communicate with their heart.

We flip open a cell phone to chat meaningless nonsense to friends. We turn on a TV to see what passes for entertainment. They eagerly wait for communication from home; a letter if they‘re in a hostile, forbidding place, or email, a phone call, or web call that will let them hear the sound of their loved ones’ voices or see their faces, praying that they will see them in person soon.

They hold their own breath, sometimes for too long, as they hold their comrades in their arms, subconsciously trying to will them to breathe, to will them to live, just a little longer... just till help can get there. They stoically stand their posts, even when inside they are crying over witnessing their closest friends shot in front of them, or blown up by an IED.

These are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our friends and family. Often, our young women and men, perhaps only 18-24 years old, leave for their duty with some of their childhood hope and innocence remaining. When they return, IF they return, their eyes have grown old, and their souls feel cold and hardened by what they have seen. Understand that they have looked upon the face of death and evil so that you do not have to.

The bridges that they have built and are continuing to build are not only of wood and brick, mortar, iron or stone. The bridges are of people to people, one on one, soul to soul. They build those bridges to let those in whose countries they serve know that there is hope for them, and that they are not alone.

Consider what you have, and be thankful. Count your blessings and know that for each one you count, you can do so at the cost of the blood shed on your behalf. If you can, when you see the opportunity, say ‘Thank You’ to someone in uniform. If possible, even more... show your appreciation in a tangible way; pay for a soldier’s meal if you see one in a restaurant, but do it anonymously... if you live in ‘military town’ where our young men and women cannot go home for holidays or not even for any special time, invite one or more into your home, and share your home’s warmth and love with them. You can be a substitute family even if they cannot be with their own. Send a ‘thank you’ card to someone in the military; you don’t have to know their name. The USO and other organizations will make sure that your card and your thanks will make it into grateful hands.

After all, this could be your son or daughter, your brother or sister, your family or friend into whose hand it is delivered.  

Love = Sacrifice of self, in every sense; spiritual, emotional, physical. To love, we have to sacrifice something of ourselves. Those brave members of our military give up part of themselves for love of not only their family, but for love of their country, and for love of doing what is right.

I love my daughter, but her willingness to sacrifice for her family and her country by her service makes me more proud of her than I can say.

When you see someone in uniform in your community, notice that they may walk a bit taller, stand a bit more proudly. That’s not just their training that does that. That’s self-respect and pride of service. They’ve earned the right to be called patriots and true Americans. Have we?


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Feb 15, 2009
    • I couldn’t agree with you anymore.  Very well written!  I think sometimes we all take for granted what the men and women in uniform do for us DAILY.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Paris Mano wrote Feb 15, 2009
    • This was very beautiful. Thanks for sharing this. I belong to Soldiers’ Angels and have adopted a soldier.
      Is your daughter serving in the military? After reading this, I am assuming she is. It is a pleasure to meet you and learn more about your family.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Julia Newbern wrote Feb 15, 2009
    • Thanks so much for your comments, maryclark, chinadoll and Paris... that’s a great welcome to this community!  

      I enjoy writing, and trying to observe the world around me allows me to draw in not just nature, but humanity... or sadly, at times, the lack of humanity we are faced with on a daily basis.

      I started to go to college, however, life got in the way, and instead I became a stay-at-home mom, without a car, for 9 years before I had to go back out into the workforce to support my family after my former husband lost a job he’d had for 10 years. His manic-depression became something that almost sank us, so it was up to me.  

      Yes, Paris, my daughter is US Army. She was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, when my granddaughter had a grand mal seizure; only a couple of days after my son-in-law flew back to the States to get back to work, as all the jobs over on post, though you’d think they would prioritize and give them to military dependents, are given to German contractors, who hire their own ‘illegals’ - mostly from the Middle East!!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Rystmom wrote Feb 15, 2009
    • Well said. One of things my hubby and I do to show appreciation is to buy their meal in a resturant. We have been looked at so strange, then we tell them thank you for your sacrifices for our country.
      We actually had 2 soldiers hug us. Stated alot of people don’t recognize their sacrifices. How sad is that!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Julia Newbern wrote Feb 15, 2009
    • Thank you, rystmom... I am the daughter of a multi-tour Vietnam vet/USMC retired... I am the sister of a former US Marine, who became a deputy sheriff, I was married to a man who served in the US Army in the 101st Airborne, I am sister to a firefighter, and mother of a soldier daughter. Only those who have given and sacrificed know the true meaning of what it is to do so. Their families sacrifice just as much, tho more indirectly.

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