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Contributor: James M. Schmidt || Poem Categories
Merry Christmas, My Friend

country as flag

'Twas 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.

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

With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I'd found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States Soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I'd just read,
Curled upon a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I was visiting this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.

Soon �round the world the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedoms each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lie alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and 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."

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
And we both shivered from the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave, on that cold, dark night,
This Guardian of Honor, so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over, and with a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, "Carry on Santa, it's Christmas Day.  All is secure."

One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
"Merry Christmas my friend, and May God Bless You This Night."

By James M. Schmidt
Former U.S. Marine Corporal
Copyright 1987

See Soldiers Christmas Project's video with a reading of this poem

Note... James Schmidt wrote this heart touching poem when he was 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. He hung the poem 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.
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