Posted by: Jacqui Murray | December 12, 2016

A Soldier’s Christmas Poem

christmasThis is one of the most popular military Christmas poems I’ve seen. Here’s it’s history, from “A Soldier’s Silent Night”:

“The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, D.C., 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.

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 over 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 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.

This poem was written originally by Marine Corps Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986.  It is narrated by Father Ted Berndt.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and To Hunt a Sub, her debut thriller. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for TeachHUB, a program reviewer for CAEP ISTE, and freelance journalist on tech ed topics. She is the parent of a Naval Officer and an Army Sergeant. Currently, she’s editing the sequel to To Hunt a Sub–Twenty-four Days–which should be out next summer.

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Responses

  1. I tear up each time I hear or read this. You can tell it comes from the heart.
    [aside – how do you know who to root for in the Army/Navy game? 🙂 ]

    • I love this one, too.

      Army-Navy–We rooted for Army this year, mostly because they’ve lost 15 in a row. We have the same problem with Navy-Notre Dame. We’re subway alumni for ND, until Navy arrives. Then, it’s difficult.

      • I was telling people about you and your family the other day and I said I was wondering how you decided – so just HAD to ask!!

      • It wasn’t tough this year. Next year may be different!


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