The Back Page

The Soldier

'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 mantel,
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 disorder -
Not how I pictured
A Canadian soldier.

Was this the hero
Of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a poncho,
The floor for a bed?

I realised 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, so 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 Honour
So willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over,
With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, "Carry on Santa,
It's Christmas day, all's secure."

One look at my watch
And I knew he was right.
"Merry Christmas my friends,
And to all a good night!"

This poem was written by a peace-keeping soldier stationed overseas. He asks only that it be distributed far and wide and that people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. We plant this small seed in an issue that is our last before both Remembrance Day and Christmas.




This is the last issue of D&D this year. We hope, especially on November 11th, you will take time to honour those who fought for our freedom, as well as those who lost their lives in past conflicts.
We might also remember those who were innocent victims of tragedies, past and present.

In December, we wish you a blessed and safe holiday season, whatever your faith. May the new year bring us all joy and peace.