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|GEORGE CURTIS GREEN JR
A Christmas Gift of Thanks
By: Celeste Green Tyner
Just the thought of writing a holiday story took me back to my childhood Christmases. Right back to standing at the top of the stairway amidst ten of my siblings waiting for the oldest to shout back up to us that it was okay to start down, that Santa had come, and it was finally time to see what he’d brought us. Starting with the youngest, we would, one after another, follow each down the stairs. I was third in line; “the three babies” they called us. Bounding down the stairs, through the kitchen and dining room, we all giggled with anticipation of what we would find as we finally approached the living room. Mom always waited there to see our faces light up when we arrived. I remember how beautiful and magical it always seemed.
The tree would be lit and presents were everywhere. There were so many of us that the room seemed full of little piles of surprises for each of us. We could tell which ones belonged to whom by the stuffed stocking lying by the pile. We didn’t have those big red velvet stockings…the ones that could be bought at the store; we just picked out the biggest knee sock we could find in our drawer…no anklets for this occasion. We would lay the sock out on the dining room table, youngest to oldest, before going up to bed on Christmas Eve and that would be the one we would look for Christmas morning. Remembering those wondrous times, I realize that my older sisters must have shared their knee socks with us three babies as we always seemed to have a good size stocking to be filled by Santa.
The two most memorable Christmases for me both involve my oldest bother Curt. The first was the year I was in the third grade; I must have been about eight years old. Curt had joined the Army Special Forces, and it didn’t look like he was going to make it home for Christmas that year. Looking back to that Christmas, I don’t know how my mom held herself together for the rest of us with her oldest child in training in a distant place. Being a single mother of thirteen she had to be strong for those of us at home.
With our tree up and our stockings laid out, off to bed we went with thoughts of what great gifts Santa would bring. When we woke that Christmas morning and followed each other down the stairs, through the kitchen, dining room and, finally, to the living room, there was the most beautiful, magical sight ever. Sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, was my big brother Curt, he’d made it home! What a wonderful surprise! Everyone was so excited and overjoyed to see him! Not only did I get one of my favorite baby dolls that year, but my big brother was home; now our family was complete again. To this day, I believe that was the best gift any of us ever got for Christmas!
Following that holiday celebration, Curt was sent to Vietnam. His tour of duty with the Army was to be finished that next December. My big brother wrote many letters home telling us of the things he was encountering in a foreign land. He loved being in the military but was looking forward to coming home and attending college after his commitment was complete. Curt planned to become a school teacher.
As the months faded by, my mother received word in late November that Curt was missing in action. Our family had already put up the Christmas tree as we always put it up as early as mom would allow. Even though Curt had been declared missing in action, there were several presents under the tree for him in hopes that he would be found and make it home for another Christmas miracle.
Just a few weeks later, I remember my principal calling me out of my fourth grade classroom to come to the office. As I made my way down the hallway, I could hear him calling my other elementary siblings over the intercom to do the same. Our principal told us he was letting us go home early for lunch that day. In those days if you lived close enough to school, you could walk home for lunch, and we did so nearly every day. But this time was different; we all left for home together trying to figure out why we were allowed an early dismissal. As we walked down the ally leading to our home, our house came into view with an unfamiliar green car parked out front. Bewildered by what awaited us, we hurried on home.
As we anxiously walked through the door, two Army officers sadly delivered the agonizing news that Curt had been killed in action on December 4, 1970; he was just twenty years old. I really don’t remember much about Christmas that year other than when it came time to take the tree down, there underneath, sat the unopened presents for Curt. Every year since then, when we put up our family Christmas tree, I always think about how sad I felt to see Curt’s presents still sitting there, unopened.
Now, as I write this short story, I realize that every Christmas, since that time, Curt has remained with us through beautiful thoughts of him. Each time we share those fond memories, it is like opening a present for Curt. To those who did not know my brother Curt, he gave us all a perfect gift…the gift of freedom and self determination so that we can live in a better world today. Curt was proud and honored to give that ultimate sacrifice. I remember Curt wrote in one of his many letters home that he loved God; he loved his country; and he loved his family. Thank you big brother! We love you too. On behalf of my loving brother, Curt, I would like to say to every military member and their family, thank you for your gift of service to this great country. Your sacrifices are not unnoticed; they are appreciated and never taken for granted. God bless you and Merry Christmas.
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Search The Wall Today We Remember
|On May 22,|
|216 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1965,|
|6 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1966,|
|22 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1967,|
|39 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1968,|
|73 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1969,|
|36 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1970,|
|30 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
|On this day in 1971,|
|10 service members made the ultimate sacrifice.|
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