April was behind the microphone, her voice timid at first but growing in confidence with each word. She was singing “O Holy Night” and her rendition was beautiful.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
April is the wife of a US Soldier in residence at the Walter Reed Medical Center. We gathered at the Malonge House on the Walter Reed Campus last weekend for a holiday celebration with our wounded warriors and their families, families who call the Malonge House their home so they can remain close to a soldier that is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation for injuries received while enlisted. For the past two years, AT&T has sponsored a holiday party at the facility that is full of wintry treats, festive music and a flurry of toys for the children of these brave men and women. These soldiers, many of them injured grievously, answered the call of service to their country and made sacrifices beyond what should be asked. Yet these men and women bear the burden of their wounds with strength and dignity, as do the families and loved ones that surround them.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
April attended our holiday gathering last year. As I recall, her husband had then just arrived at Walter Reed and was undergoing multiple surgeries for his injuries. Many of the children at the party likely recall no other home. Six-year old Giovanni was there with his two-year old brother, Hessi. He posed for a picture with Santa that didn’t develop properly. When I asked him if he wanted another, he said the other kids should get a chance to meet Santa before he sat a second time. He assured me that was the right thing to do.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Toward the end of the party a soldier came in with his father. He couldn’t have been more than twenty years old and he had bright eyes and a wonderful boyish grin. A chair laden with electronics cradled his head, neck and body and his father carefully tended to his comfort. By this time, all the cookies were gone and all the gifts had been distributed, so all we had to offer them was a bit of hot cider and our appreciation for their service. The soldier thanked me, and said he just wanted to enjoy the carols. So, the soldier and his father sat together listening to the songs and embracing the joy of the Season.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angels’ voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born.
For the past year, my colleagues and I have filled these pages with a battle of words over regulatory policies and legal implications. Those battles all pale in the face of the commitment and dedication of our men and women in uniform. The warriors we honored this past weekend, and the loved ones by their side, speak to the essence of courage and sacrifice and embody the true spirit of the season. I was honored to join them for some holiday cheer.
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
The holiday season is now fully upon us. As you celebrate, please take a moment to remember and honor and support the men and women that so courageously defend this country at home and abroad, and the families and loved ones that serve with them. The dangers they face are grave, the service they provide is essential, the debt we owe them is great. Happy Holidays.