The frost sparkled upon the steel bridge rails;
clattering trains overhead, steam whistles wail.
while deep in the shadows beneath the concrete forms
men live in cardboard boxes trying to keep warm.
The snow is falling, a hard chill in the air.
Coffee is brewing - the aroma drifts through the air.
A fire in the open, they gather round the flames;
their own country has forgotten their names
Christmas is nearing, city full of bright lights.
Red and green colors bring back memories alright;
But not of joy, nor peace on this earth,
nor of the Christ child, nor the night of His birth.
Red flares of a hot zone, green flares safe to land;
the bright lights of tracers ripping the bodies of man.
Their sleigh was a chopper, no reindeer in sight;
rags held them together 'til the end of their flight.
No one sang carols,
no one rang bells,
no presents to unwrap,
no sweet stories to tell.
Their solitary gift,
to fight another day;
Santa never showed up,
it was out of his way.
The crackling of the fire brings their thoughts back home
as they sip their coffee outside their cardboard homes.
Soon they will sleep beneath today's front page news.
To some they have disappeared without trace or a clue.
There's a purple heart pinned to an old veteran's chest;
on another a Silver Star holds closed a ragged torn vest.
Behold, there's a bronze star on the old soldiers coat,
one hand grips a bottle, the other a suicide note.
Purple and Silver and Bronze 'neath the bridge;
survivors of Khe Sahn and of Heart Break Ridge.
The bright lights of the city and all the brightly lit trees
pale by comparison to decorated men such as these.
So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
Think about our Brothers who are still in the fight.
They live in the shadows of the honor they deserve;
denied rights by a government they fought to preserve.
Richard D. Preston
©December 5, 2000
“I wonder if their vote counted this election”
Page created: Sunday, 10 December 2000