In November a B.C. comic strip carried a message that may have been lost in the fanfare and pageantry leading up to this holiday season.
In the 10-panel drawing Wiley, a peg-legged, unshaven prehistoric poet, sits under a tree and shares these two rhyming stanzas:
And once we vet the greater threat,
Distant though it be,
They took their oars on foreign shores
Sitting here beside my beer
Shaded by my tree,
Gives me cause to take a pause...
For them I sit here free —
For many of us who have served in the United States military there is another side of Christmastime that stirs quietly beneath the lights and tinsel. It’s a conflicting blend of emotions that can both deepen our gratitude for the season and cast a troubling shadow of sadness on our picture of yuletide.
It’s an ache telling our hearts that our service to country is a reminder that peace on Earth and goodwill toward men is not always found. It’s the ever-present realization that to maintain peace there must be those who are willing to take up arms to protect and defend this one nation under God.
This holiday season as we rejoice in the message of love, forgiveness and the gift of grace, may we also recognize that there are men and women who will not be home for the holidays, either because they stand ready at their duty posts across the globe or because they have exemplified the core meaning of Christmas expressed by the one whose birthday we celebrate when he taught: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
For these men and women I sit here free —
(Note: Johnny Hart, who died at his drawing board in 2007, originally created the B.C. comic strip. Hart’s grandson, Mason Mastroianni, carries on the strip which is featured daily in the Courier print edition.)
Richard Haddad is News & Digital Content Director for Western News&Info, Inc., the parent company for Prescott Newspapers, Inc.