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A Soldier's Christmas Carol


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Okay, I did not write this.  I received a Christmas card from one of my newspaper customers.  She is a sweet old lady, living alone, who works meticulously on her front yard garden despite needing a motorized chair to get around as spritely as she does.  And she must cross the road to get her paper out of the tube because of how the mail routes are set up in that rural area.  To that point, when the weather is bad, I drive up under her carport and set her paper in a rocking chair near her kitchen door.  Anyways, inside this car, printed on the left inside, was this poem.  I have found several attributions to it on the web, so i present it here for all of you.

I should also say, before the poem, that I was a Navy BRaT (Born, Raised and Trapped) kid.  There were a few Christmas holidays where my father was stuck on ship, thousands of miles away from our family, in very tense situations.  He served his country with honor, pride and a professionalism that to this day serves as an example to my family, even though Dad has been gone from us ins 2010.  With the passing of my sister, just this month, I have found my focus going back to family and memories.  I know many of you here, both staff and members and visitors have served in the military.  I know many of you have had family member serve, and some of those have made the ultimate sacrifice for home and country.  I imagine that the young Lance Corporal who wrote this poem feels much the same way we all do.

So on this Christmas Eve, after celebrating my fiancee, Benji's, birthday and before we both head out to prepare the papers for throwing early tonight, I offer you all this poem, written by a soldier, describing a soldiers love and dedication to his country on this night of all nights.

May there be peace in your hearts, love in your lives, beauty in your sight, warmth in your body, joy in your soul and something wonderful in your glass.  And may this new year upon us bring hope, unity and prosperity to us all.  Merry Christmas, dear friends.

And now...


Merry Christmas, My Friend

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.

I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
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'd 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 off 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 night's chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine 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 goodnight.


The author is James M. Schmidt, who was a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986. As Corporal Schmidt told us in December 2002:

The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, DC, under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers [in 1986], I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the Gym in the 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.

Schmidt's original version, entitled "Merry Christmas, My Friend," was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991, a full two years before it was supposedly "written" by someone else on Christmas Eve 1993 (and had appeared in the Barracks publication Pass in Review four years before it was printed in Leatherneck).

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