Lance Corporal James M Schmidt
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
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.
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.
“Merry Christmas, My Friend,” has been a holiday favorite among ‘leatherneckphiles’ for nearly the time it takes to complete a Marine Corps career. Few, however, know who wrote it and when. Former Corporal James M. Schmidt, stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., pounded it out over 17 years ago on a typewriter while awaiting the commanding officer’s Christmas holiday decorations inspection…while other leathernecks strung lights for the Barracks’ annual Christmas decoration contest, Schmidt contributed his poem to his section.”
Mr. Schmidt’s own words:
“The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, D.C., 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.”
Semper Fi to all of my brother Marines and to everyone who serves, no matter the uniform.
H/T to anittango