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On Christmas Eve, a lonely soldier writes home

Editor’s note: The following Christmas Eve letter from a Persian Gulf soldier to his father back home was never sent. It’s a fictional letter penned by David Harrison, a Salisbury florist, who tried to imagine on a Christmas Eve during that war, the kind of thoughts going through a soldier’s mind, knowing they had to be similar to the Christmas Eve Harrison himself had spent in Vietnam during his 1970-71 tour with the Air Force. Harrison thought what he had written might be good to share this Christmas season.

Dear Dad,

Being away from home at Christmas really makes a guy understand the true meaning of Christmas. I know that Christmas is the birth of Christ, but it also means spending time with your family.

The GIs here in the Persian Gulf are really great. We’re like one big family, but the desert just doesn’t seem to be the place I thought I would be spending my Christmas. This Christmas Eve, I wish I could push a button and by magic be home. But that wouldn’t be fair to the other guys, because everyone wants to be home for Christmas.

Dad, I remember when I was 5 years old and that Christmas you were away from home. Mother sure did miss you. She told me you were in a place called Vietnam. I didn’t understand where Vietnam was because all I had on my mind was a place called the North Pole and a man named Santa.

I remember that letter you sent home Christmas Eve, and I remember when Mother opened it. She tried to explain to me why my daddy wasn’t home for Christmas. I didn’t understand what she was trying to tell me, but to please her, I said I did understand.

I remember her crying that night, and as she put me to bed, she said a prayer for you and a prayer for me. She said that although you were thousands of miles away, you could hear our prayer. She placed my hand over my heart, and she said that if in your heart you really loved someone, they were always with you.

Tears came to Mother’s eyes as she read your letter. Together we placed our hands over our hearts and for a magical moment I thought you were with us. I truly believe I grew up a little that Christmas Eve, and I also truly believe I felt my first experience of love.

Dad, it’s been 20 years since that Christmas Eve. Now I’m in a place called the Persian Gulf and I’m sending a letter home for Christmas. You were right, Dad, history does repeat itself.

Please give this letter to my wife and son. I want them to know that no matter what happens, that in my heart, we will be together this Christmas. I may be thousands of miles away from home, but I will place my hand over my heart and will say a prayer.

And for a magical moment, our love will be together.

I promise that next year I will be home for Christmas.

Merry Christmas and love,

Your Son

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