Readily I admit I fought through watery eyes to get this retyped here. Though I did not serve in the military, I have known many good men and women who did. While the poem was written specifically by a Marine for Marines, I have placed it here as a tribute to all military men and women, past and present. I honor and thank you. By your efforts I am able to celebrate Christmas quietly and without fear.
“Merry Christmas, My Friend”
T’was the night Before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.
I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree,
No stockings by the mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen,
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I heard stories about them, I had to see more
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read,
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.
Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”
With that he rolled over, drifted into sleep
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still
I noticed he shivered from the cold nights chill.
I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and I covered this Soldier from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over and in a voice clean and pure,
said, “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and good night.
Although attributed to many and often amended, what I have included here is the original poem in its original form written by James M. Schmidt in 1986. In December 2002, he set the record straight about the poem’s origin when he wrote “The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th and I, Washington, DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers, I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine”.
Please share this blog with others in honor of our veterans and soldiers.
From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge,
to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq,
our soldiers have courageously answered when called,
gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.
Posted originally on Christmas 2012