Monday, December 22, 2014

For all those serving this Christmas

As a veteran myself, I would like to extend my thanks and everlasting appreciation for the millions of men and women who do, and have, spent their Christmas away from family, whether on a safe and secure Air Force base like I did, or in the face of hostile guns, as many still do today. They embody the true spirit of giving.

In their honor, I present the original Merry Christmas, My Friend by LCpl James M. Schmidt, written in 1986. Although written about a Marine, the wonderful sentiment crosses all service boundaries.

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.

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