Dec 24 2010

 

A very Merry Christmas!

We LOVE you!

 

What an eye opener!

For the original web site of this post, click here.
For more background on the origins and history of the poem and its author, click here.
ABOUT “MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIEND”

Thanks to Brett Kramer, who wrote us yesterday with the correct information, we have learned that the beautiful poem sent to us some years ago by one of our “web friends” is a modified copy of the original circulated on the internet for some years. The original poem’s true author, James M. Schmidt, was a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986.

The true story of the poem, as told by Lance Corporal Schmidt: “While a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, DC, 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.”

Schmidt’s original version, entitled “Merry Christmas, My Friend,” was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991, a full two years before it was supposedly “written” by someone else on Christmas Eve 1993 (and had appeared in the Barracks publication Pass in Review four years before it was printed in Leatherneck).

As Leatherneck wrote of the poem’s author in 2003: “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 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.”

Over the years the text of “Merry Christmas, My Friend” has been altered to change the Marine-specific wording into Army references (including the title: U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as “soldiers”) and to incorporate line-ending rhyme changes necessitated by those alterations.

We reproduce below Corporal Schmidt’s version as printed in Leatherneck back in 1991:

Merry Christmas, My Friend

By James M. Schmidt, a Marine Lance Corporal
stationed in Washington, D.C., in 1986

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.

Reports are that after leaving the Corps, Corporal Schmidt earned
a law degree and now serves as an attorney in Los Angeles and is
director of operations for a security consulting firm.


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Nov 10 2010

Today is the 235th anniversary
of the beginning of the Marine Corps
during the Revolutionary War.

Every year, on November 10, the United States Marine Corps celebrates its birthday with formal dances and the cutting of birthday cakes with sabers. It is the highlight of the year and today is the day!

Underway on the open ocean during the Persian Gulf War, 1990.
The side of the USS Guam, an amphibious assault ship, now
retired, decommissioned 25 August 1998.

When shots were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, Continental Army generals realized they would need to fight a naval war to keep Britain from re-establishing control. In the fall of that year, plans to formally create a fighting force based on the water took hold and it was…

“Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of. Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.”…as written by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

USS Nassau as seen from the USS Guam in port.
Rota, Spain March 1991.

Today, any Marine and their family recognizes the Marine Corps Birthday by thinking of the goals of the Corps and the dreams, some fulfilled and others lost in sacrifice, of every young Marine. It is a sobering moment to remember all the battles fought and time served by those who have proudly worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem. Today, especially, if you know a Marine or see one when you’re out and about, thank them for their service to our Country and be sure and wish them a Happy Birthday!



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