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Commissioners corner

by Bernie Curtis

I would like to detour from the usual County Commissioner’s report by taking time to honor some of America’s heroes.

The following poem was presented to a meeting of the Sierra Nevada Republican Women’s Club by Robbi Jacobsen, a Gardnerville Elementary School 5th grade teacher. It was, apparently, written by an unknown American soldier stationed on the island of Okinawa. It touched me and the members deeply when it was presented during the Americanism portion of the meeting.

I was raised in a military family and it seems appropriate that I should repeat it to you this last Christmas season of the 20th century.

‘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 somber though

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 and 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.”

Take the time to give thanks this Christmas for the military men and women who are in service to our country. Our prayers should be for their safety and for their quick return to their families.

Merry Christmas!

n Bernie Curtis is a Douglas County commissioner for District 3.