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A Gift for Sergeant Sunshine

By John Erickson


Note:  This story is written for a group of teenagers to perform.  It is not intended to be intense until the end.  Those acting as NSA or NCIA should have fun with their characters.  The more exaggerated the better. 

Setting:  Military office.  It is plain with a desk in the center of the stage, a file cabinet and a few chairs against the wall.

Characters:

Clerk:  Preferably female.  She is outgoing, efficient, and warm.

Captain:  He is young and mentally out in space.  There is a lot he doesn’t understand.

PFC:  Can be male or female.  He/she is new and doesn’t know much but is willing to
learn.

Lenny:  He is very warm and always smiling.  He cares very much for everyone.

Sarg:  He is always frowning and grumpy.  He only talks to get the job done.  He hates
Lenny.

Specialist Pinrod:  He/she deals with classified material.  He/she is very concerned about
security.  He/she is friendly and likes to play practical jokes on occasion.

MSA:  Spies on Pinrod.  He/she doesn’t say anything but tries to be sneaky and is bad at
it.  MSA has no speaking part but should be good at pantomime.

MCIA:  Spies on MSA.  He/she is equally as incompetent at spying but fools MSA.
    MCIA has no speaking part but should be good at pantomime.

Corporal O’Malley:  Preferably is male.  He works for the motor pool maintaining and
loading trucks.  He may have grease on his hands and clothes.  He is not
sufficiently concerned about security in a war zone and has trouble keeping his mouth shut.



 During the Viet Nam war many American men and women choose to serve their country because, right or wrong, it was what the USA had chosen to do.  Other Americans protested that war, perhaps with good reason.  Protestors of the Viet Nam war said unpleasant things to those who chose to answer the call of duty.  Those who decided to defend their families, their country, the right to protest against the war and gave their lives and futures to defend those they loved often came home to dishonor, ridicule, and even disgrace.  They fought for our country with as much bravery and sacrifice as any, yet our country turned their back on them.  I am proud to have stood among them as one of them.  While I was a soldier sent to another country at the time, I am not ashamed to have served my country and wish to dedicate this play to those outstanding men and women who stood up along side our country during its darkest days even when those around them objected.  You are my heroes, and it is to you this play is dedicated along with all who honor the United States of America as members of the armed services and those who honor God as members of His holy army.


Scene 1

A day in Late November

Clerk (Reading a letter he/she is writing to his/her parents out loud) 
Dear Mom and Dad,
The weather here is pretty nice for late November.  I got the Christmas presents you sent today.  You must have sent them in the middle of summer.  I’m anxious to see what is inside.  I also appreciate the cookies and so do the others here.  By the time they have traveled a month or two to get here they are hard enough we can use them to sand old wax off the floors.  Remember Lenny, the young guy who is always happy, he suggested we order a Christmas tree and garland for one of the main bunkers out at the front lines to let them know we are thinking of them.  I’ll probably order those things today.  Lenny sent a letter to his home church and asked the people to make recordings to tell the guys they were praying for them and how much they appreciated what the troops are doing.  We ordered a player for CDs and a case of batteries and even threw in a CD of Christmas music.  We have a convoy of supplies and Christmas meal going up to the front just before Christmas so we hope to get our “special delivery” included. 
(Phone rings as the Captain and PFC enter)  Supply company 143.  Yeah.  Yeah. 
No.  Yeah.  No.  No.  Well let me know if you need any more facts.  (Hangs up) 
Don’t you just hate it when people try to pry secrets from you?

Captain:  Like what?

Clerk:  See. There’s just no rest for the sneaky.  Christmastime is too close for oversized
ears.

Captain:  (Pulls back his ears)  I can’t help it.  My mom tried taping them back when I
was little but it never worked.  And that duct tape liked to make me bald.  Anyway,  specialist Rodrigaz this is PFC Latire.

Clerk:  We’re pleased to have you on board PFC Latire. 

PFC:  (Jumps to attention).  I’m pleased to meet you too specialist.  (Salutes)

Captain:  Well, I have lots of work to do so I’ll let the specialist give you all the details. 
(leaves)

Clerk:  Relax, I mean, at ease.  Now that basic training and A-I-T are over you can be a
real person again.  We save the attention stuff for inspections and the movies. 
The work the captain is doing is taking a nap.  You’ll probably hear him snoring
shortly.  It keeps him out of trouble around here and out of my hair.  Have a seat
and I’ll tell you about the people who work here.  You’ve already met the captain
and have probably figured out he has trouble following what’s going on.  Our job
is to keep him from making orders that will harm someone.  Sometimes you have
to be fairly sneaky getting him to think what you say was his idea.  (Lenny enters) 
Here comes Lenny Shelton .  Lenny, this is PFC Latire.  You’ll like him.  He’s a lot of fun and really cares about people.

Lenny:  Hi there.  I’m pleased to meet you.

PFC:  Likewise.

Clerk:  Lenny is our resident clown slash social director.  He brightens up almost
everyone’s day except for one.  His name is Otis P. Meriweather.  His favorite beverage must be vinegar ‘cause he has a sour disposition.  For some reason he is
on Lenny’s case 24 hours a day.  When Lenny came up for promotion, he refused
to sign it.  When Lenny put in for leave at Christmas like the rest of us the Sarg
approved everyone else’s but tore his up

Lenny:  I think he thinks I’m the one who put too much starch in his shorts.  He hates
everybody but not as much as me.  I really don’t know why.  Maybe I remind him
of someone who stole his teddy bear in fifth grade recess.

Clerk:  Lenny calls him Sergeant Sunshine, but not to his face.

Lenny:  The poor man has issues.  I don’t have to have them too.  I just do what he tells
me and let him fret about whatever I remind him about.  I’ve been trying to think
of a Christmas present for him.  Got any suggestions?

Clerk:  I have.  How about….

Lenny:  Be nice.

Clerk:  Oh.

PFC:  I’m sure, the way it sounds, the others here can give you plenty of suggestions.

Lenny:  Oh they have.  I just don’t want to go there.

Clerk:  Too bad.  I’d love to watch.

Lenny:  How about silk underwear?

(Sarg enters looking his usual angry self)

Clerk:  Sergeant Meriweather this is member of our team PFC           .

Sarg:  Yeah. (Looks sort of in the PFC’s direction and immediately turns back to the
clerk)   Did you order the cleaning supplies yet?

Clerk:  I have them typed up for the captain to sign today.

Sarg:  Well add a case of toilet brushes.  PFC Shelton, it appears you have some extra
time on your hands.  It’s time for you to clean the rifles and pistols in the vault.

Lenny:  I just cleaned all 167 of them last Thursday, Sergeant.

Sarg:  Our lives depend on those weapons.  Are you questioning my judgment PFC?  .

Lenny:  No sergeant.  (As he exits he says)  I vote for pink.

Clerk:  (Sarg exits as Pinrod enters)  See why we call him Sergeant Sunshine? 
Specialist Pinrod, I’d like you to meet PFC Latire.  He(she) just joined our team. 
Specialist Pinrod handles all of our secret communications.

Pinrod:  Welcome to the insanity.  Whatever he(she) said, don’t believe half of it and
question the other half.

PFC:  It isn’t that crazy, is it?

Pinrod:  No,  it’s worse.  Not from this office though.  Because I deal with secret stuff all
the time I have some of our own guys from the Military Security Agency (MSA)
that spy on me to see if I give away classified secrets.  Then there is another
agency, the Military Counter Intelligence Agency (MCIA) that spies on the spies
that suspect me of spying.  These guys are spooky. They work at blending in so you won’t notice them.  Trust me, you’ll know.

Clerk:  Surely it isn’t that bad, is it?  Come to think of it, it could be.  So, did you come
here to spy on us or are you just trying to escape?

Pinrod  Actually, I had a question about your order.  Before I place it I wanted to check     to make sure you intended to order a ton of chocolate.

Clerk:  That’s correct.

Pinrod:  2000 pounds?

Clerk:  Sure

Pinrod:  OK.  I give.  Just why would you order a ton of chocolate at Christmas time?

Clerk:  Shhhh!.  Can you keep a secret?

Pinrod:  Well I should hope so.


Clerk:  We’ve ordered some special food, books, and CDs for the guys on the front lines. 
I’m afraid Sergeant Sunshine will stop our shipment and steal the Christmas joy,
so Sarg doesn’t know.  He hates Christmas.  We didn’t tell the captain either
because he couldn’t keep a secret if his life depended on it.  I’ve heard people
sometimes feel loved when they receive chocolates, so I want them to know how
much we appreciate the sacrifices they are making.  I thought a ton would be a
good start.

PFC:  Can the government afford it?

Clerk:  I thought about it.  You know, I think most Americans would be willing to buy a
ton of chocolate out of their own pocket if it would help our troops understand
how much we appreciate what they are doing.  I figured my order was cheap.

Pinrod:  It’s OK with me.  I’ll send it on.  I just wanted to make sure it was right.  Got
    any more orders?

Clerk:  Yeah, but I have to add something then get the captain to sign the requisitions. 

Pinrod:  OK.  I’ll be back shortly.  Oh, by-the-way, can I leave this “SECRET”
document on your desk?  It’s actually a schedule of who has latrine duty but those
MSA and MCIA guys will think they caught me at some great conspiracy.  I like
giving them a hard time.

Clerk:  (Smiling)  Aw, come on, there aren’t really people like that around here are
 there? 

Pinrod:  Judge for yourself, you’ll probably see them soon enough.

Clerk:  Well, if you must, I’ll see what I can do to help.

Pinrod:  Thanks.  See you later.  Nice to meet you.  (Exits)

Clerk: (To PFC) Let me show you some things we do here listed in the file.

(They go over to the file cabinet and the clerk pulls out a file they look over.

(As soon as Pinrod  exits, MSA sneaks in the door.  He/she obviously tries to be unnoticeable.  He/she may wear glasses with a big nose attached or some very obvious disguise.  He/she immediately sits in a chair against the wall and pulls out a comic book and pretends to read as they sneak a peek over and around it.  At the same time MCIA sneaks a peek in the window and pulls out what appears to be a camera, which is really a matchbox and takes pictures of every move MSA makes.  The clerk and PFC go over to the file to get some information and appear to be absorbed in writing it down.  While doing so, MSA runs up to the desk and takes pictures of Pinrod’s “SECRET Document”  while MCIA takes pictures of MSA.  MSA immediately sits down and tries to look invisible as MCIA sneaks in the room dressed in an outrageous disguise and carrying a different comic book that he/she hides behind.  When MCIA looks from behind his comic book, he has changed his disguise and now has a fake mustache which he has put on crooked.)


Captain:  (Enters)  I’m glad that work is done.  I’ll be out of my office the rest of the day
doing some work for Major Hathowitz.

Clerk:  (Under his/her breath)  Thank the Lord.  (Louder)  Before you leave, sir, would
you please sign these requisitions.

Captain:  What are these for?

Clerk:  Just supplies needed around the post for cleaning like toilet brushes.

Captain:  Oooooo.  (Starts signing several pages then stops)  Christmas garland?  Why
do we need Christmas garland?

Clerk:  (Trying to think fast)  Ah.  Ah.  That’s antistatic garland to put around the door of
the ammo bunker.  We don’t want stray sparks setting things off, do we?

Captain:  I guess you’re right.  (Signs some more pages)

Clerk:  Sir, doesn’t it seem to you Sergeant Meriweather is being awfully hard on
Lenny?

Captain:  Actually, I have noticed he makes him do a lot more duties than anyone else. 
I’ll talk to him and straighten him out.  You can count on me.  I want my people
to be happy and eager to do their work.  We work as a team and I lead this team
with courage and strength.  I’m your man.

(Sarg enters and everyone immediately frowns.  MSA and MCIA sneak out)

Sarg:  (Getting right to the point)  Did you order those toilet brushes?  Make that two
cases.  I’ve got someone who’ll be needing them.

Captain:  Sergeant, don’t you think you’re being a little hard on Lenny, I mean, PFC     ?

Sarg:  Well sir, I think he lacks the discipline and tenacity to be a quality member of your
team?  I’m trying to submit him to intense training to make him fit to be a
magnanimous soldier under your command, sir.

Captain:  (Looks confused by what the sergeant just said) Well….Ah….Yes, Sergeant,
you have my full support.  Carry on.  (Clerk’s mouth drops open)

Clerk:  I can’t tell you, sir, how much I appreciate what you just did.

Captain:  Don’t mention it.

Clerk:  Don’t worry.

(Captain and Sarg leave and O’Malley enters)

O’Malley:  Hey, Michelle.  I think I’ve got things worked out for you without Sarg
finding out you got all that Christmas stuff in the shipment to the front lines. 
We’ve set the date to ship out for Dec. 18th.

Clerk.  Fantastic.  Corporal O”Malley this is the new kid on the block, PFC Latire.

O’Malley:  For a war zone this is a pretty nice place to be.  There are nice people here
except for Sergeant Bah Humbug. 

Clerk:  Oh.  Have you noticed that too?

O’Malley:  Have you ever had to listen to this guy gripe about how useless Christmas is? 
He goes on and on.  Like he has something better.

PFC:  I’m getting quite an image of this guy and it isn’t a pretty picture.  I can certainly
see the contrast in calling him Sergeant Sunshine.

(Pinrod enters)

Pinrod:  I’m back.  Got your requisitions ready?

O’Malley:  Why do these things have to be so secret?  Who cares about knowing when
there is a load of toilet paper going to the front lines?

Pinrod:  Would you want someone preventing you from getting your shipment of toilet
paper?

O’Malley:  Hmmm.  This may be more critical than I thought.

Pinrod:  Didn’t I hear you talking at the NCO club last night about this shipment going
out on Dec. 18th?  There are a lot of local people who work there.  Can we trust all
of them?

O’Malley:  That’s all I said.  Surely it wasn’t that important.

Pinrod:  You can never be too sure.

Clerk:  Well, we’ll do the best we can to get the supplies and our special present to the
front.  I appreciate what all of you are doing.  Thanks a great deal.  Maybe we can
bring a little more meaning of Christmas more than we even realize.


Scene 2

Morning of December 18

(MSA is sneaking around the darkened office taking pictures of everything – the sillier the better.  MCIA is also in the office taking pictures of MSA and is hiding badly behind anything like the file cabinet, drapes, desk, etc.  As the clerk comes in and turns on the light MSA and MCIA sit down and pull out their comic books.  The clerk immediately notices them “hiding” and shakes her head then goes over and sits at the desk.  There is a very small Christmas tree with a few homemade decorations or military items on it on top of the file cabinet.  The captain enters.)

Clerk:  Good morning, sir.  Since its December 18th, our convoy should be heading out to
the front this morning.  Any last minute orders, sir?

Captain:  Well, I was thinking…

Clerk:  (Cuts him off)  Good for you, sir.  It’s good to get some thinking in before the end
 of the year and you run out of time.

Captain:  Oh phooey, now I forgot what I was thinking about.  I just can’t get started
without a cup of coffee.



Clerk:  One cup of coffee coming right up.  I got the coffee maker ready before I left last
night so it should be just about ready .  (He/she goes over and pours a large cup of
coffee.  As soon as he/she heads back toward the Captain with the coffee, MSA
runs over and takes a picture of the coffee maker and MCIA takes a picture of
MSA then both run back to opposite chairs.  Nobody else seems to notice.) 

Captain:  (He is speaking as O’Malley enters)  Well Specialist, I’ll be in my office until
the coffee has time to take affect.

Clerk:  (As the captain exits)  Don’t wake up too fast, sir, your eyes might get stuck open
and you won’t be able to sleep for days.

O’Malley:  You actually want the captain to wake up?  What if he makes some crazy
decision again like he did the last time we went to the front.  He headed us
straight for the enemy line until Sergeant Sunshine straightened him out.

Clerk:  Relax.  He’s drinking decaf – but don’t tell him.  You’ll hear him snoring shortly.

O’Malley:  You are so sneaky.  (At that, MSA drops his/her comic book and starts
writing like crazy in a pocket notebook.  MCIA does the same thing but is
watching MSA while doing his/her writing.)

(Lenny enters)

Clerk and O’Malley:  Hey Lenny.

Lenny:  Wow!  Isn’t this a fantastic day.  I’m so excited about our special shipment to the
front.  (Clerk points to MSA and MCIA.  Lenny looks then acknowledges their
presence and changes his conversation)  Don’t you just love driving up to the
front?

O’Malley:  Yeah right.  What did you smoke for breakfast?

Lenny:  OK.  Maybe it’s not that great, but its almost like delivering Christmas presents
    to the family.  (Sarg enters) My parents use to do that on Christmas eve.  (MSA
    and MCIA sneak out.)

Sarg:  PFC (Lenny), don’t you have better things to do this morning than talk about your
family?  You ride with me in the convoy today.  And don’t you dare talk about
your family or Christmas.  Is that clear?

Lenny:  Yes sergeant.

Sarg:  (To clerk)  And that sorry excuse for a Christmas tree comes down December 26th. 
Is that clear?

Clerk:  Yes sergeant.

Sarg:  Corporal O’Malley I expect you to have the trucks ready to leave at zero-nine
hundred hours this morning.  Any questions?  (Sarg leaves)

O’Malley:  I guess I’d better get things moving.  Old Sarg seems to be in an especially
good mood today.  (O’Malley exits)

Lenny:  You’d better translate zero-nine hundred hours for the captain.  That’s when
Micky’s big hand is on the twelve and his little hand is on the nine.

Clerk:  (Laughs)  Maybe everyone but me would be better off if I just let him sleep. 
Good luck with spending the day with Sergeant Sunshine.  It should be one laugh
after another.  Did you think of a present for him yet?

Lenny:  No.  It just hasn’t come to me yet.  I’ll have plenty of time to think about it
today.  Since I can’t talk about my family or Christmas we won’t have much of a
conversation.

Clerk:  I’m sure you will think of something appropriate.  (Smiles)

Lenny:  We’ll see what happens.  Please pray for my sanity and that I do the right thing. 
Well, have a good day. 



Scene 3

Later on December 18

(Sergeant Sunshine walks in visibly shaken and battered.)

Clerk:  (Sarcastically)  What happened to you?

Sarg:  I don’t understand.  How did they know?  I know the area we were in wasn’t completely secure but without warning I had a flat tire on the truck so I got out to fix it.  .  I didn’t think about the possibility of an ambush.  How would anyone have known when we were coming through?  Somebody must have put nails in the road to make us have a flat tire.  I didn’t think much about it.  I’ve changed a lot of flat tires.  Lenny was helping me.  He had gone around to get the jack while I loosened the lug nuts and as he was coming back I could see out of the corner of my eye that he stopped suddenly like he couldn’t make up his mind what to do.  Then he started running toward me and dropped down on the ground a couple feet behind me.  All of the sudden I heard an explosion and was thrown against the truck.  I didn’t see it but when Lenny came around the truck he must have seen a grenade someone rolled in behind my back.  He must have hesitated a few seconds before deciding what to do.  When I got up I saw that Lenny had fallen on the grenade that was intended for me.  He was dead.  He could have run.  He could have saved himself.  He could have let my own miserable existence finally come to an end but instead he gave up his life to save mine.  Why?  All he ever talked about was his family.  I hated him.  I hated it every time he brought up the things he did with his family.  I gave him a hassle every way I could think of.  I gave him every reason to want me dead, but when the opportunity came he chose to let me live instead of him.  Why didn’t he let me die?

Clerk:  (Obviously upset and sobbing)  I can’t believe he’s gone.  He was so full of life.  Why do people fight?  Why do we have wars?  Killing is insanity.  Why can’t people stop fighting even for Christmas?

Sarg:  (Angry)  Christmas!!!  Christmas.  What difference should that make?

Clerk:  Why do you hate Christmas so much?

Sarg:  Do you really want to know?  (Pause)  Let me tell you what my Christmas was like as a kid.  My old man was a mean drunk.  Every year at Christmas time he’d get boozed up then come home and beat on us while he drank until he passed out.  One year, a friend of mine got a new Play Station for his birthday and he gave me his old one.  My old man stole it out of my room while I was at school and hocked it to buy more booze then came home and knocked us around.  What kind of father would do that?  I couldn’t figure out what I had done to deserve to have him treat me that way.  I kept trying to do things that would make him care about me like the other kids said their fathers treated them, but nothing I did worked.  He never had time for me, never told me I did a good job, never told me he loved me.  My old lady was no better.  She knew guys with their Christmas bonuses would be willing to spend money on her.  She needed money to buy cocaine to get through Christmas.  She couldn’t have me hanging around interfering with business so she locked me in the closet downstairs with a bag of chips and a coffee can in case I needed a bathroom.  Do you know what salt does to a busted lip?  Every minute I was locked in there I got angrier.  I hated both of them.  I was their son but they only saw me as a nuisence?  I sat in that closet for hours.  For days!!  Who knows how long I was trapped in there.  I was starving, sore and bruised, and it stank.  I kept thinking about all those other people sitting down for a Christmas dinner stuffing themselves when all I got was stale chips.  They didn’t care that I didn’t have any food.  They weren’t concerned about my being beaten.  It didn’t matter to them that my only gift was to be let out of the closet when she could finally remember where I was or even who I was.  Why didn’t anybody help me?  I didn’t just hate my parents, I hated everybody.  I’d go back to school after Christmas break and all the kids would talk about all the things they got, so I lied and told them about all new stuff.  I never occurred to any of them I never brought any of those things to school.  Eventually, I got to feeling the world owed me some of those things, so I started stealing what I wanted.  If no one was willing to give me gifts, I’d give them to myself.  That’s when I got caught and ended up in ju-vy.  By that time I didn’t care.  At least I was away from my old man’s fists.  When I went before the judge I was old enough the judge gave me a choice, go to jail or go to war.  I chose war and that’s where I’ve been the last six years and why I’m here today.

Clerk: No wonder you hate Christmas.

Sarg:  I wish it never happened.

Clerk:  I’m sorry

Captain:  (Enters as the other two quickly compose themselves)  Specialist, I need your
help.  I have to start making arrangements for Lenny’s remains to be sent home
and it is customary for someone to accompany the body.  Do you have any
suggestions?

Sarg:  I will go, sir.

Captain:  I don’t think that’s wise, Sergeant, but I can understand your reason and
    appreciate your offer.

Clerk:  Sir, since its Christmas, those of us who could put in for time off already have
their leaves approved and reservations made.  The sergeant was the only one not
requesting time off over the holidays.

Captain:  But Sergeant, Lenny’s parents may be very angry at you over the loss of their
son.  Things could get very ugly for you.

Sarg:  Trust me, sir, I can handle the anger and hate.

Captain:  Well.  If you are willing to go, knowing the risks you may face, I am grateful
for your willingness to volunteer.  I’ll make the arrangements as soon as possible.
    Are you planning to visit your family while you’re in the States?

Clerk:  Sir.  (She’s ignored)

Sarg:  No, I’m not.

Captain:  I can give you a few extra days.

Clerk:  Sir, don’t go there.  (Still ignored)

Captain:  In fact, you could surprise them.  Wouldn’t that be fun.  I love surprises.

Clerk:  Sir.  You’re not listening.

       
            Lights go down



Scene 4

Several weeks later

The scene opens with only the clerk on stage.  He/She is sitting at his/her desk and reads the letter he/she is writing out loud.

Clerk:  Dear Mom and Dad.  I came back from my Christmas vacation today.  It was
such a great trip.  I didn’t realize how much I needed the rest.  Things had been so
hectic.  In spite of the tragedy our Christmas convoy was able to get through.  The
notes we got from all those grateful guys made most of the hassle worth it.  I
wanted to tell you how things came out with Sergeant Sunshine since I’ve told
you so much about him.  He came back this morning.  He said he attended the
funeral for Lenny and that it was obviously extremely hard for his parents.  At the
graveside Lenny’s mother came up to him and said, “We’d like to get to know the
man our son was willing to die for.  Would you come and stay with us for a few
days?”  Can you imagine?  In their extreme pain they thought of him.  How could
Sarg refuse?  He thought that at any minute they would explode their emotions on
him, like his own father had done to him so many times.  But they treated him like
family.  They asked Sarg about their son, about their relationship, about his
family.  No one had ever cared about him like they did.  They had every reason to
hate him but they didn’t.  Their concern seemed genuine.  He said he could easily
understand where Lenny got his warm positive attitude even when things were
against him.  They didn’t much feel like celebrating Christmas, which was fine
with him.  After a couple days, Lenny’s father said, “Do you mind if I ask you a
personal question?  I know without question Lenny is in heaven right now.  If that
grenade had taken your life, would the same be true for you?”  He said, “Sir, I’ve
lived in hell all my life, I suspect death would be no different.”  Then Lenny’s
father said, “Lenny died to give you a few more days here on earth, but Jesus died
in the same way, when we didn’t deserve it, to give us eternal life in heaven.” 
With that he began a conversation that led Sergeant Sunshine to a new life that
will last forever.  Who would have thought?  Talk about a changed man.  I almost
didn’t recognize him when he came in today.  He just beamed with joy.  He even
gave me a hug.  He’s telling everyone in sight about the change in his life and
how Lenny opened his eyes.  All that suppressed joy is busting out everywhere. 
Lenny wanted so desperately to give Sergeant Sunshine the right Christmas gift.
None of us thought it would cost him his life.  None of us thought it would change
this Sergeant forever.
     These last few weeks have given me some major new perspectives on what is
important.  What are our real Christmas gifts?  Please don’t get me wrong.  I love
the things you sent.  And I hope you like what I sent.  But you know, looking
back at the things I’ve gotten over the years their importance faded as their
newness wore off.  Maybe it’s because I’m so far away from home and there is
real fighting going on around us and real people dying every day, but my real
gifts were the walks you and I would take together, Dad.  Arm in arm we would
walk down the road talking about the days events, laughing about just silly things,
just enjoying each other’s presence.  Or Mom, your sitting on the end of my bed
while I cried about the way somebody put me down at school.  You weren’t
critical.  You just listened and made sure I knew you loved me.  Those times, and
so many others, were as close to heaven on earth as I’ve ever been.  It’s too bad
I’m only now seeing what really special gifts they are.  Sergeant Sunshine is also
seeing a whole new world.  Something he said today will probably stick with me
the rest of my life.  He said, “Considering the father I grew up with, I may never
understand what it is like to have a loving Father in heaven, but thanks to Lenny,
who gave his life to save mine even when I hated him, I know what it is to have a
savior.”  God bless you Lenny.  I love you Mom and Dad.