A Christmas poem courtesy of Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down his chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
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,
And on the wall pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought came to my mind.
For this house was different, so dark and so dreary,
The home of a soldier, now 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 up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon around the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help wonder how many lay 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 soon 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 evening’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, 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 to all a good night.”
Merry Christmas to all of America’s warriors throughout the world. Thank you for making it possible for us to enjoy our holiday in peace and safety…
Charles M. Grist
Author of the award-winning book My Last War: A Vietnam Veteran's Tour in Iraq