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Soldier's Silent Night

Most of you proably have read "Merry Christmas, My Friend" before, but have you heard it with the backdrop of Silent Night?

Here is the link to the MP3 audio version (3.5MB) of "Merry Christmas, My Friend", titled "Soldier's Silent Night" - you can either stream it or right click and save as.  It's courtesy of WLIT's Melissa Forman (thanks to Sara B. for the link).  Below is the credit from WLIT:

Written by former Marine Corporal James M. Schmidt, in 1987 when stationed in Washington D.C., it was pounded out on a typewriter while awaiting the commading officer's Christmas holiday decoration inspection.  It was originally title "Merry Christmas, My Friend", and was an instant success that reportedly brought tears to the eyes of the barrracks Commander who ordered it distributed to everyone he knew. It appeared in the barracks publication Pass in Review in December 1987 and Leatherneck Magazine in December 1991.

The poem was recorded as a tribute by Father Ted Berndt, a former Marine and Purple Heart recipient during World War II, currently residing in Dousman, Wisconsin for his daughter Ellen Stout, a Clear Channel radio personality.

Here's the original poem:

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIEND

‘Twas 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.

©Copyright circa 1991 by James M. Schmidt
(As printers in the December 1991 issue of the USMC magazine, Leatherneck)

Thanks to Bill Faith of Small Town Veteran for the poem link and correct attribution/origin of the poem!

Merry Christmas!

[Note: As the poem was written by a Marine about a Marine and the recording was made by a Marine, I'm not sure why the recording was titled "Soldier's Silent Night".  It might be because "soldier" can be used to describe anyone in the Armed Forces (capital S "Soldier" means Army).  Or it just might be a mistake.]

Posted by Blackfive | December 18, 2004 in Military | Permalink

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Comments

That poem has been a Chirstmas staple of mine every since I read it several years ago...

Posted by: LarryConley | Dec 18, 2004 1:12:11 PM

Matt, I just listened to that recording you link to. It's wonderful and I'm going to link to it, but the wording has been modified quite a bit compared to the original poem. The term "Soldier" is appropriate for the recording. The lyrics for the recording are posted at http://www.wlit.com/soldiersilentnight.html.

Posted by: Bill Faith | Dec 18, 2004 1:43:40 PM

Christmas this year will be hard for the troops and their families. It always is but this year we are fighting a war like no other we have ever fought.

Be proud Marines not only for the faith you show each and every day for your country, but also for the millions there living under your protection. The poet may have been one of you but the pride shown in the poem is what most of us feel when thinking about you and your task. Words can not express all the feelings we the people of these United States would like you to know.

Just know that you are in our prayers, our hearts and minds this Christmas season. There will be an empty place at our table for Christmas dinner in honor of you military people so far from home. Those still at the "children's" table in the kitchen will understand that place of honor belongs to you.

Posted by: Don Black | Dec 18, 2004 4:20:15 PM

Matt - I think you would find the the capital "S" in "Soldier's Silent Night" is due to it being a title. The use of "soldier" within the poem itself, I believe, was changed to broaden the reach of the poem to include all of our military forces. I mean, why not sailors, as in Navy SEALS, or why not airmen. By changing it to "Soldier" it could be applied to all, instead of just Marines. Then, of course, some of the lines of the poem had to be changed or removed because they were service specific to the Marines.

Posted by: Caleb | Dec 18, 2004 6:13:38 PM

Wonderful rendition, and it always makes me meditate on those who are still out there for me.

Today I got a different version, one I hadn't seen before, so I posted it in my blog. Here's the link, so it won't overfill your comments section.

http://chaoticsynapticactivity.blogspot.com/2004/12/yet-another-wonderful-nite-before.html

Posted by: Curt | Dec 18, 2004 8:21:05 PM

What is this, a campaign to make us cry at least once a day?

Thanks for sharing these poems with us.

Posted by: Beth | Dec 18, 2004 11:06:46 PM

Well, if the tears are due to remembering the faith, strength, and DEDICATION of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, bring it on, for they are tears of joy and gratitude, and those are never a problem.

Thank you for the links, origins, and MP3. I'm going to link to them and make sure that all of our protectors know just how thankful I am for ALL OF THEM!

God Bless and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted by: Smoke Eater | Dec 19, 2004 3:56:17 PM

As a "militant jarhead", I'm always pleased when the Corps receives notoriety in the mass media, and, at one time in the recent past, was arrogently biased in favor of the Corps...
BUT, as the warfighters of ALL of our forces, and those of our allies have created the opportunity to showcase units other than the Corps, I am less likely to begrudge our sister services their share of the spotlight...
This one, about a Marine, serves ALL of our people, and I, for one, am happy to share...
Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine... God Bless 'em All!

Semper Fi,

Sgt. B.

Posted by: Sgt. B. | Dec 20, 2004 10:37:35 AM

My dad got this link by way of an old friend he flew with back when "Navy planes were fueled with coal" or something like that. Thought this was a great way to say thanks to the troops. It's got some wonderful sound, but it isn't required to view the page.

http://www.clermontyellow.accountsupport.com/flash/UntilThen.swf

Merry Christmas to all who serve!

Alen

Posted by: Alen | Dec 20, 2004 1:39:42 PM

Even though I am not in favor of our involvement in Iraq, I wholeheartedly support all the men and women in the Armed Forces. Their ongoing sacrifices give me and all Americans the right to disagree with our government and all the other freedoms under the Constitution. To them I can only say" God bless you and keep you safe until you return home again".

Posted by: Jerry Meany | Dec 23, 2004 7:11:52 AM

Thank you so much for the opportunity to receive this recording. This was the first year that I have heard it. I was deeply touched by it's message as I am sure my family will be when I share it with them.

May God bless you and the others that protect our freedom and country. Be safe and have a Happy Holiday season, sir.

James

Posted by: James Estes | Dec 23, 2004 4:14:01 PM

I heard this poem for the first time today on wlit and I was so moved I had to find the lyrics . Thank you so much for all you give..

Posted by: Sharon | Dec 23, 2004 11:21:59 PM

I learned years ago that conflict changes a person. I had experienced conflict when I was younger and in the military. It changes you. At times it distances you from those around you for reasons that you unable or unwilling to explain.
You see, the some of the things seen, experienced by veterans are horrible and repressing or attempting to repress them can dampen all of your emotions/feelings. The only problem is every now and then your feelings, the very feelings that you are hiding from, can trigger a flood of emotions. Taps, the Vietnam Memorial Wall and now this version of Silent Night are three of what I call my emotional triggers/releases. I have some control over Taps and the Wall in that I can to a certain degree control my exposure to them. But what control is there when your driving down the road and this wonderful, moving song comes on. I think the title is appropriate because over the years I have met veterans of many of the service branches and have found that we share many of the same feelings and emotions

Posted by: dave | Dec 26, 2004 12:25:45 AM

I recieve this poem every year. I read it and cry tears of graditude, pride, and love for all our men and women who serve to keep us safe and free. God Bless You.

Our son Jay(airmen) will not be home for the holidays this year. He is serving overseas. This is a small task we will endure again this year.
Love and Prayers,
Proud Mom

Posted by: Soldier & Airmen's Mom | Nov 30, 2005 9:34:54 AM

how can i get and audio of the soldiers silent night. went to site that you mentioned would not let me in....heard it on the radio..really enjoyed it....thanx....SFC Hatten US ARMY retired

Posted by: charles hatten | Nov 30, 2005 8:11:40 PM

This moved me to tears. My grandson is in Afghanastan and every time I hear it I think of him and pray for all of the people serving, but especially for him and all of the 82nd Airborn. My question is who does the recording? It sounds like Van Johnson to me. Anyone? Audrey

Posted by: Audrey Feiber | Dec 2, 2005 4:54:18 PM

AT TIMES WHEN I FIND MYSELF STRESSING ABOUT THE SEASON AND ALL I FEEL OBLIGATED TO DO, I NEED TO HEAR THIS AND IT PUTS ALL MY MINOR "INCONVENIENCES" INTO PERSPECTIVE. MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF OUR TROOPS AT THIS SEASON AND THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. I PRAY FOR YOUR SAFE RETURN HOME!

Posted by: Jeanne Schirra | Dec 5, 2005 1:22:17 PM

Hello, Recently we discovered my uncle, who is a veteran of WW 2, laid sick in his bed for almost a week before family discovered that he was sick. We rushed him to the hospital only to learn he is dying from cancer.

My Uncle Melvin Dietrich served as a Tank Commander during the Battle of Bulge, and also was part of the Patton's relief columm to help break out Bastogne. So as one can imagine, after me hearing this very beautiful song/poem, and hearing the details of how we found my Uncle laying in his bed, sick with not a single Christmas decoration in his home, I fell to my knees in tears and wepted!

I am enternally grate full to the individuals who made this unique song available. My only wish is to find away to get a copy of this song so I can play it for his 4 sisters who are by his bed side night and day, as they all wait for our Creator to take his Spirit away to that old solders home "away from home" in heaven!

God bless all those who are connected to this special song/Poem!

Pastor Dean Ashton
2780 Manitou Road
Rochester, NY 14624
585-594-8805

Posted by: Pastor Dean Ashton | Dec 8, 2005 5:41:07 PM

How can I get a recorded audio of this? I am technologically challenged and not familiar with downloading and I do not own an MP3 player.

Posted by: Doris Schneider | Dec 15, 2005 10:50:28 AM

We buried my father on monday 9 dec, 2005. 2 days later i heard this poem and at that is when i realized why he, a wwII vet, and me, a vietnam era vet did what we did. this , like my dad's memory, will be with me until it's time for taps is sounded for me. my thoughts are with every woman and man standing watch over me now all over the world. god bless and keep you all

Posted by: ron brown | Dec 16, 2005 8:41:30 PM

I first heard it on the radio. It made me cry, a marine so true to his country for us to be free. He should be so proud and not alone. It made me feel pride and compassion for all the armed forces so willing to fight without any concern ..for themselves only for their familes friends, their country and their God. They should be praised and hornored. I know they are all cherished and loved by the Lord, I will pray for all of them.

Posted by: Linda | Dec 21, 2005 11:03:00 PM

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