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.
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.
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.
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 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 the soldiers 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 soldier from his toes to his head.
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, and to all a goodnight.
This is an adaptation of a poem written by James M. Schmidt, who was a Lance Corporal in the Marine Corps stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986.
Over the years the text of "Merry Christmas, My Friend" has been altered to change Marine-specific wording into Army references.
After leaving the Corps, Corporal Schmidt earned a law degree and now serves as an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles and is director of operations for a security consulting firm.