By CPL James M. Schmidt
‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
I had come down the chimney with presents to give
As I looked all about, a strange sight did I did see...
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
His head was clean shaven, his face weathered tan.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
Soon around the nation, the children would play,
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry. This is my choice.
With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
I didn't want to leave him, so quiet in the night,
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure, said,
One look at my watch and I knew he was right.
This poem exists in a number of versions. This is the earliest
attributed version we can find,
Index of other Christmas memoirs.
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