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Christmas Bivouac
A Historic Tribute

It was Christmas Eve at Valley Forge,
Falling snow and freezing sleet,
Where the greatest foes were frozen toes,
Hunger and chattering teeth.

But the rag-tag army gathered round
On a Christmas hearth of frozen ground
In allegiance to the baby born
And the nation to which they had sworn.

Again, when Fredericksburg was fresh at hand
And eighteen thousand lay on the land,
Only a Christmas card at mail call
Could calm the weary-if card at all

From precious loved ones left behind
But tramping across a troubled mind
Encamped in fields of snow and cold-
Two month's march from where the stamps were sold.

On the Western Front, the Christmas truce
Was heralded as though by angels loosed
When both sides stepped onto no-man's-land
To shake an enemy's outstretched hand

Because an errant carol, it is said,
Lifted ears, then eyes, from trench's bed
And kindled response to heartfelt word
In the season's strains that they heard.

At Bastogne, surrounded and given an ultimatum,
"Nuts," said McAuliffe, "We can outwait 'em!"
And the 101st Airborne hunkered down tight
To fight and pray through Christmas night.

And they held on, outnumbered five to one,
In the coldest of winters with supplies near run
Until the 26th of December, 1944,
When Patton broke through to even the score.

It is lineage and heritage deep in the bones
Of those gone to serve far from their homes
Where only love and letters and memories
Can fill the hearts and souls of our sentries:

Sentries who walk the line with firearms steady
And centuries of values held at the ready
To give credence to Christmas and esprit de corps
Since the birth of our nation and its first call to war…


James N. Zitzelsberger

Contact: Moki Lane Publishing:  mokinme@mokilane.com