A Soldier’s Christmas

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I had not planned on adding a post for today.  However, I read a FaceBook post by one of my long time friends and fraternity brothers this morning, and I came upstairs to my office to share it with all of you.

Phil Osborne has served our country for decades.  He has served in many difficult situations and advised some of the highest ranking officers in our nation.  I am very proud of all he has done for all of us.

I encourage you to enjoy every word.

Merry Christmas to all of you – and to all of our men and women who sacrifice so much so that we can remain free.

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“Thank You Sergeant”  by Phil Osborne:

 

Every Christmas Eve for over twenty years, I have quietly stopped for a minute at some point, and said quietly to myself, “Thank you sergeant.”

It was Christmas Eve, 1992. I was in Mogadishu, Somalia. My family was in San Antonio, and my youngest child was only 6 weeks old. I felt lonesome (among the hundreds around me), guilty for leaving my wife with a new born at home alone, and sorry for myself for being in this hell-hole armpit of a country on Christmas Eve…all rolled into one. And hot. It was always hot. Even at midnight, it was hot.

Around midnight, a big, burly Canadian Army sergeant walked by with a 10 gallon metal gas can. You could tell it was full by the way he was carrying it. He stopped where I was sitting and said “Captain, put your arm down in the can” as he unsnapped the lid to the gas can.

“I’m not putting my arm down a gas can” I told him! “Are you nuts?”

“Captain…it’s Christmas Eve. Trust me. Put your arm down the gas can.”

I did.

What I felt was a miracle. Ice! Where did he get ice? As I started to pull my arm back out, he said “Go down further and feel around.” Trusting him now, I put my arm down further into the can. There were, what felt like, cold cans in there! “Pull one out, sir.” I did. It was the frostiest, coldest, most beautiful Coke can I’d ever seen. The sergeant snapped the lid down quickly to keep the ice from melting.

“You looked lonely, captain. It’s just a Coke…but Merry Christmas.” I asked him where he got the ice. He told me it was none of my business.

“Thank you, sergeant. I don’t know what to say.” “You don’t have to say anything more, sir. Merry Christmas.” And he walked off into the night.

I opened the Coke and savored every cold, small sip. I never saw the sergeant again. But I never forgot him, and what I learned that night:

– It’s not the amount of anything that matters, it’s how the gift was given that matters.
– That no matter where you are, someone is probably watching out for you in some way that you’ll never know.
– That even the smallest act, when done in kindness, can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
– That even in the midst of man-made hell, goodness can appear from the most unlikely places.

And that’s why, every Christmas Eve, I whisper to myself at some point, “Thank you, sergeant.” Merry Christmas.

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