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• Once again I would like to share with my readers the following moving poem that was written many years ago by a Marine in Okinawa. His only request was that people read it. Enjoy a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.

‘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 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 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.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email