Friday, December 23, 2005

Something for the Holidays

Staff Sergeant Michael Ventrone USMC Platoon sergeant 3rd Platoon Fox/2/1

Corporal Cole Hoyt USMC Rifleman and Fire Team Leader

Lance Corporal Daniel Hallowell USMC Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner

My nephew sent me this poem. With it I've posted images of several young Marines freshly returned from a long cold night keeping vigil in an isolated observation post(OP)in Hit, Iraq. On their tired faces rest the remnants of face camouflage, and the weight of just wanting to lay down and sleep for days knowing that only a few brief hours of rest will lay between them and the next patrol.

A Different Christmas Poem

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.
Sleep without fear as you turn out your lights."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of this line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one has asked or begged or implored 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 remembered."

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 some money, 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.

To all of you, MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Anonymous said...

What amazing pictures. God Bless you Sir and the fine work you do.
God Bless our fine Marines and may they know that we all love them and miss them here at home but are so very very thankful for their bravery and the gift of freedom they have given to us all.
Merry Merry Christmas to you as well.
Becky Van Hout
Bailey, Colorado
Mother of L/Cpl Van Hout 2/1 Fox CO.

Beth* A. said...

This powerful poem is (deservedly) working it's way into many of the milblogs this Christmas season due to it's poignant message. How great that your nephew sent it on to you!

That last stanza pulls no punches:

"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."
- Whummphfff!, a stunning blow....right to this reader's breastplate. Each time.
Do not doubt it, you troops matter. PLENTY. America is the luckiest nation on Earth to have you on OUR side. I hope you get to rest soon, you 3 Marines in the photos above (and the one behind the camera); but if not yet, it's heartening to know you all are 'out there', guarding us and each other. Wishing you all Silent Nights, warmth in your days, and a blessed Christmas season.

Anonymous said...

Two years ago at Christmas my son played the tuba in the school concert, played a shepherd in the church play, and spent the actual day opening presents with us like he'd done every Christmas for 17 years. Last year he was enjoying having just graduated from bootcamp in San Diego, and was home again for his 18th Christmas with us. This year he called from Al Asad on Thanksgiving Day, having just paid his last respects to 8 of his Marine brothers, and that was the first we'd heard from him in over a month. He called again day-before-yesterday, the first we'd heard since Thanksgiving, and he'd been out on patrol along the Euphrates but thought he was finished. It's Christmas Eve and we're hoping for another phone call. But you have blessed us beyond our dreams by posting an honest-to-goodness picture of our precious son here. My, he looks tired. But he's fine, and we get to see him for Christmas. Your vicarious window is more of a gift than you can imagine! Merry Christmas, and may God bless you M.D.Fay!
Mary Hallowell
Mother of L/Cpl Hallowell 2/1 Fox Co

Mei-Ling said...

Merry Chistmas! Best wishes to all of the guys over there and many prayers for a safe return.

loiselles_gomarines said...

Dear Michael,
A day late but, Merry Christmas to you and all our troops. You are appreciated more than you can know. May the Angels keep you safe. God Bless You!

Hugs & Prayers,
Proud Mom of Cpl Loiselle, 2/1 Fox Co.

Anonymous said...

i just wanted to say thank you for your dedication to the pictures and everything you have been doing. also i love the picture of the red head marine that has his cami paint on his face. because it is a touch of home because that is my husband. seeing that picture makes my day. but anyways thank you.
cassandra hoyt
wife of cpl cole hoyt

Maggie45 said...

I have looked at the faces of these men, and read the post and the comments several times over the past few days, and have been touched beyond words, and don't quite know what to say even now. Except to say thank you to these men and to their families, and may God hold you and bless you, and may you be together again soon.