T’was 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 whom in this house did live.
As I looked all around a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stockings by the fire, just boots full of sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far-away land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the house of a U.S. Marine.
I’d heard stories about them, so I had to see more.
I walked down the hallway and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping. Silent. Alone.
Curled up on the floor of 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 on his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean shaven, his face weathered tan.
I soon understood this was more than a man.
For I realized families that I had just seen that night
Owed their lives to these men, so willing to fight.
Soon around the nation the children would play
And grown-ups would celebrate a bright Christmas Day.
They enjoyed freedom each day and all year
Because of Marines like the one lying here.
I couldn’t help but 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 awakened for I heard a rough voice.
“Santa, Don’t cry. This 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. So still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
To cover this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his tee-shirt of scarlet and gold,
With an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
Although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride.
For one shining moment, I was the 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 good night!