Merry Christmas My Friend

by Marine Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt

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

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

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