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Merry Christmas My Friend

Posted By Blackfive
Note:  This is an annual post to share one of the most powerful military Christmas poems that is also usually attributed incorrectly or changed from the original.  Enjoy.  Merry Christmas, my friends!

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 on December 23, 2005 • Permalink

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Comments
Comment below written by: LarryConley

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

Comment below written by: Bill Faith

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

Comment below written by: Don Black

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

Comment below written by: Caleb

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

Comment below written by: Curt

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

Comment below written by: Beth

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

Comment below written by: Smoke Eater

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

Comment below written by: Sgt. B.

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

Comment below written by: Alen

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

Comment below written by: Jerry Meany

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

Comment below written by: James Estes

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

Comment below written by: Sharon

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

Comment below written by: dave

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

Comment below written by: Soldier & Airmen's Mom

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

Comment below written by: charles hatten

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

Comment below written by: Audrey Feiber

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

Comment below written by: Jeanne Schirra

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

Comment below written by: Pastor Dean Ashton

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

Comment below written by: Doris Schneider

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

Comment below written by: ron brown

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

Comment below written by: Linda

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

Comment below written by: The Smoke Eater

I love this poem, but I cannot find the MP3 any more, can you e-mail it to me if you still have it?

Posted by: The Smoke Eater | Dec 23, 2005 2:05:59 PM

Comment below written by: Blackfive

http://holidaylite.wlit.com/holidaylite/music/soldiers_silent_night.mp3

Click on that link - it's the same as the link in the text.

Left clicking will stream it - play it on your media player.

Right click, then choose save as, will save it to your computer.

Posted by: Blackfive | Dec 23, 2005 2:41:32 PM

Comment below written by: Bill Faith

Matt, according to http://www.wjzi.com/soldiersnight.asp Father Berndt went on to his final reward in March of '04. I, for one, will never forget his final gift to the world. I hope you and some of the other MilBloggers will join me in saving copies of it so if it disappears from the places it's available now we can see that there's always a copy available for people to listen to in years to come.

Posted by: Bill Faith | Dec 23, 2005 3:14:20 PM

Comment below written by: Tom Shaughnessy

If you are able,
save for them a place inside of you
and one backward glance when you are leaving,
for the places they can no longer go.

Be not ashamed to say you loved them,
though you may or may not always have.
Take what they have left
and what they have taught you with their dying
and keep it with your own.

And in that time when men decide
and feel safe to call the war insane,
take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes
you left behind.

Written January 1, 1970 by Major Michael Davis O'Donnell Dak To, South Vietnam

Posted by: Tom Shaughnessy | Dec 23, 2005 3:38:29 PM

Comment below written by: luckent47

went to the VA hospital in Ann Arbor (home of super-patriot Juan Cole./s)and checked on some profiles.
they know what I think about 'em.
really makes one ashamed to think one has real "problems"..
Merry Merry Christmas!!, Army or not.

Posted by: luckent47 | Dec 23, 2005 6:06:14 PM

Comment below written by: hunterk2

Outstanding. God Bless our Armed Forces.
Merry Christmas to all!

A Funny:
http://www.vmix.com/viewVideo.php?ID=1976

Posted by: hunterk2 | Dec 23, 2005 7:14:35 PM

Comment below written by: Eric

... beautiful poem, Matty... all the best to you and yours over the Christmas holiday... and a prosperous New Year to us all....

Posted by: Eric | Dec 24, 2005 7:35:44 AM

Comment below written by: wake up

I just want to wish all of our troops a Merry Christmas!

Posted by: wake up | Dec 24, 2005 12:50:48 PM

Comment below written by: PebblePie

Deck The House!

http://www.powerpres.com/xmascard03.html

Merry Christmas,

Pebble

Posted by: PebblePie | Dec 24, 2005 1:02:59 PM

Comment below written by: Jack

Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!

Posted by: Jack | Dec 24, 2005 1:31:40 PM

Comment below written by: Maggie45

Thank you for this, Matt. And thank you for this website and all you do. And most of all thank you for your service to our country, and for bringing our attention to all our heroes.

Posted by: Maggie45 | Dec 24, 2005 9:04:01 PM

Comment below written by: Beth* A.

The Merriest of Christmases, Matt o' Blackfive, and a simply splendid New Year to you and your family!

Posted by: Beth* A. | Dec 24, 2005 10:00:38 PM

Comment below written by: MissBirdlegs in AL

Merry Christmas to you & yours, B5!

Posted by: MissBirdlegs in AL | Dec 24, 2005 10:27:38 PM

Comment below written by: scott holmes

Merry Christmas, B5 and all the B5 family.

I pray for every service member not home in their bed tonight. Please take care.

Thanks for everything, B5.

Posted by: scott holmes | Dec 24, 2005 11:00:30 PM

Comment below written by: dmac

God bless you Matt. These stories would remain untold if not for you. Merry Christmas.

Posted by: dmac | Dec 24, 2005 11:20:55 PM

Comment below written by: Ledger

Pass the word down the chain (from the top to the bottom) that I am truly grateful for the topflight work our men and women in the US Military have done. From Afghanistan to Iraqi they have done an excellent job. No other fighting force on the face of the earth could have done better.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Btw: B5, you have very good site!

Posted by: Ledger | Dec 25, 2005 12:53:06 AM

Comment below written by: MaryAnn

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Matt.

Posted by: MaryAnn | Dec 25, 2005 5:51:35 AM

Comment below written by: That 1 Guy

I love that poem...

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Matt.

Posted by: That 1 Guy | Dec 25, 2005 8:30:43 AM

Comment below written by: Deb

Thank you for reminding me of that poem. Merry Christmas to all!

Posted by: Deb | Dec 25, 2005 9:17:14 AM

Comment below written by: wordsmith

Merry Christmas! I might not post here often, but you have been one of my regular visits since I started following blogs. Thank you for everything!

Posted by: wordsmith | Dec 25, 2005 11:18:17 AM

Comment below written by: Patti

Happy Holidays All
Patti

Posted by: Patti | Dec 25, 2005 12:27:14 PM

Comment below written by: AubreyJ

Merry Christmas!!!!!!
AubreyJ......

Posted by: AubreyJ | Dec 25, 2005 3:13:55 PM

Comment below written by: DEAN BERRY -- REAL AMERICAN

JESUS CHRIST HAS REMOVED HIS BLESSING FROM AMERICA BECAUSE OF THE AMERINAZIS. THIS HAPPENS WHEN A COUNTRY BECOMES SO THOROUGHLY CORRUPT THAT IT BEGINS VIOLATING THE LORD'S LAWS FLAGRANTLY. AMERICA'S LAST HALF DOZEN WARS HAVE BEEN WAGED PRIMARILY TO BOOST A PRESIDENT'S APPROVAL RATINGS. THOSE ARE UNJUST WARS, AND EVERYBODY KILLED IN THEM IS A MURDER VICTIM. PLUS, LOOK AT WHAT A DEN OF THIEVES THE AMERICAN MARKETPLACE HAS BECOME. AMERICA IS SOON TO BE TOPPLED, MUCH THE SAME AS THE FIRST NAZI NATION, GERMANY, WAS WHEN THEY WENT TOO FAR. MARK MY WORDS. http://www.mixposure.com/song.php?songid=20936
.

AND DON’T MIMICK YOUR COMMUNIST FIRST COUSINS BY CENSORING THIS POST.

Posted by: DEAN BERRY -- REAL AMERICAN | Dec 25, 2005 7:53:47 PM

Comment below written by: Myron

Merry Christmas

Posted by: Myron | Dec 25, 2005 10:02:53 PM

Comment below written by: angel

this thing is to long

Posted by: angel | Dec 28, 2005 10:31:25 AM

Comment below written by: Sean

Merry Christmas to you and yours Matt! May your this new year bring happiness in everything you do.

Posted by: Sean | Dec 28, 2005 6:36:49 PM

Comment below written by: mercedes

hey i love you so much and on b5 christmas special what did you not want patrick to show on tv but anyways call me 219-545-6600 and this page is too long how do yall read all of this!?!

Posted by: mercedes | Jul 9, 2006 4:09:11 PM

Comment below written by: Bruno

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Posted by: Bruno | Sep 12, 2006 1:37:36 AM

Comment below written by: fazi

mariotti tipografia $ mousey fighetta spogliarello $ prosexgiosamente infermiera $ miktex $ astronomia napoli $ investimento azionari $ riunione $ bilancia meccanica $ autocoscienza amatoriali amore $ gotico galleria $ theatre tickets $ tariffa assicurazione auto $ nel bagno affari $ fun ragazze prostituta $ studentessa giovane ubriache $ medio grasse $ sospensioni $ sex intimissimi $ ale roma $ culi sex nane $ piu fresco intrepido orale $ adatto fighette anale fotti $ suoneria polifoniche download $ bionde sfondate $ whirpool frigorifero incasso altezza $ computer desktop acer $ sexcepire figlio $ bellezza mpeg $ rani $ piu caldo succhiare $ piede in culo $ maglietta calcio $ felicitous cameriera anale fotti $ prezzo hotel grado $ carino segretaria masturbate $ brasex agente di polizia prostituta $ likable bionde prostituta $ milano imballaggio $ cetriolo fica $ incontri gela $ nonsensical cameriera gruppo $ freschissimo ridicolo sex $

Posted by: fazi | Oct 30, 2006 3:28:11 AM

Comment below written by: Norma L. Heimerle

I think it's absolutely beautiful. I have just listened to the audio of this poem and I sat here crying. I have emailed it to everyone I love, it's simply beautiful. Is it out on CD I would love to purchase it.

Posted by: Norma L. Heimerle | Nov 20, 2006 3:48:46 PM

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Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 9:14:18 AM

» Merry Christmas, My Friend from gringoman.com
Via BlackFive (voted best military blog, 2004), another version of a traditional yuletide poem. This one is set far from the madding crowd of Beltway and Mall, the foto-ops and sound bites, neo-cons and neo-coms, Mother Sheehanites and Haliburtonites, the [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 1:52:53 PM

» Merry Christmas, My Friend from gringoman.com
Via BlackFive (voted best military blog, 2004), another version of a traditional yuletide poem. This one is set far from the madding crowd of Beltway and Mall, the foto-ops and sound bites, neo-cons and neo-coms, Mother Sheehanites and Haliburtonites, the [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 1:55:27 PM

» Sneaks Wide World of Blogging 44: Soldiers Holiday from Sneakeasy's Joint
This series is dedicated to the proposition that Blogging is a prime example of the saying Variety is the Spice of Life. Let's get to the good stuff! Let's spend Christmas with the troops! The other day I wrote a [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 4:27:18 PM

» Sneaks Wide World of Blogging 44: Soldiers Holiday from Sneakeasy's Joint
This series is dedicated to the proposition that Blogging is a prime example of the saying Variety is the Spice of Life. Let's get to the good stuff! Let's spend Christmas with the troops! The other day I wrote a [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 4:38:16 PM

» Tree Blogging from The Political Pit Bull
Merry Christmas to all my readers! Beneath the tree, here are some C... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2005 11:45:17 PM

» Some Tour blogs from Tour Blog
Some Tour blogs. Archive Blogroll Chess Flickr Technorati... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 12, 2006 7:00:34 PM