We live in perilless times. Our enemies, both foreign and domestic, seek to destroy us. They threaten to wipe out all that America stands for: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The most important of these great values that our forefathers fought for is our freedom.
There was a particularly dark time as well in ancient Israel’s history. Their enemies had overrun them and disrupted life as they knew it. Yet God desired to restore Israel to their former glory, and He revealed what it would take to achieve that to the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel recorded that message in Ezekiel 22:30 when God said “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it:”
What we need today to keep our nation great is to have someone stand in the gap for all that we hold dear as Americans. When I think of the need of having someone stand in the gapfor America I think of the US Marine Corps.
From Tun Tavern in Philadelphia and the resolution of the Continental Congress to form two battalions of Marines, until today, the United States Marine Corps has gallantly served our country since that 10 November 1775 date. This is where you began to stand in the gap in American history.
From The Halls of Montezuma in 1847 in the Battle of Chapultepec. After two days of fierce fighting the Marines captured the National Palace, which broke the back of the Mexican army and the hearts of the people. It played a vital role in ending the Mexican war and you stood in the gap.
To the shores of Tripoli and the Battle of Derna in 1805 where the our government refused to continue to pay ransom money to priates off the Barbary Coast. After marching across 600 miles of the Libyan Desert to successfully rescue the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia and defeat the pirates. Your first battle on foreign soil was a success. You stood in the gap.
From the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, you have stood in the gap. From protecting our embassies to serving during natural emergencies, the Marines have stood in the gap to defend our interests. The USS Jason Dunham will be commissioned today, commemorating the life of Corporal Jason Dunham, who stood in the gap to save the lives of two other Marines, and probably countless others.
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard into a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "It’s really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me picturs, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
As you have stood in the gap before, please stand once again and join me in prayer