A Soldier’s Final Christmas Gift

During the holidays, we imagine families gathering together, holding each other close, and exchanging presents for those we care about. This joyous time of  year is a reminder of giving, goodwill, and togetherness, but is also a time to reflect on those we have lost. Every day, veterans around the world sacrifice so much, including their lives, for their country. And for those Gold Star families who have lost a loved one to war, the holiday season brings about a time of healing and remembrance.IMG_9342.JPG

Fifty-five Vietnam veterans lost their lives on Christmas Day and 160 veterans shared a birthday on this day.

It should be our duty as Americans, and as human beings, to ensure that our fallen are not forgotten. It is even more crucial that during this time of year, our gratitude for our veterans does not falter. We should carry out the respect of our veterans every day, and share that message to our children and grandchildren. Let’s teach each generation that fighting for our country and standing up for the very ideals we cherish as a country comes with a price. For the 58,300 on The Wall and for fallen veterans of all wars, that price was their life.

As we laugh, hug, and sit down for our special holiday meals, may we not forget the sacrifices our service members make on behalf of all of us. And let us not forget those who are fighting today, far away from their homes.

Below is a poem from Mario Ybarra Jr., whose father of the same name died a few days shy of his first birthday.

“I live everyday with the notion of what my father must’ve thought and felt that very second when that flying bullet pierced his warm skin. As a result of his death, I have suffered with what has been labeled as ‘intergenerational transmission of trauma’ (otherwise known as Secondary PTSDIMG_9343.JPG). Losing my father when I was almost one year old has not been easy. I have had to fight a different kind of war. One that encompasses depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, etc. I have learned to use different forms of psychotherapy in order to survive. Writing poems has been one such example,” Mario recalls.

“One of my most cherished literary works is called A Soldier’s Final Christmas Gift. I believe it is very enlightening and extremely powerful. To supplement this poem, I created a Christmas tree using Purple Heart medals. I believe it is befitting since all those that are KIA’d receive such distinction.”

Mario’s poem is a reminder of the affliction so many families deal with on a daily basis, but shows that the memory and love of a person does not fade. While our veterans may not be with us, let’s work to preserve and honor their memory through our words and our actions throughout the year.

To all of our veterans, we say thank you for your service and for those who returned, we say welcome home.

Learn how to help honor and preserve the memory of all of our Vietnam veterans, including our legacy of service here.

We wish everyone a merry holiday season, and wish everyone good tidings, comfort, and healing in 2015!