At War at Christmas: Military families sacrifice for us all
It's Christmas Eve, and hundreds of thousands of military families are not able to be together for the holiday. But like generations of Americans in uniform before them, they will buck up and soldier on.
Moms who have to do all the Christmas chores by themselves will explain again to their children why dad has to be thousands of miles away in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some dads will have to speak similar words to their children.
Most of us at home can only imagine bearing that burden. That's part of why it is important for those of us safe and warm by the hearth with our families this Christmas to remember and pay tribute to our military families who are separated by war.
We tend to forget that American troops have observed Christmas in Germany and Japan for 60 years and in Korea for more than 50. There are Americans in uniform there today.
But the military people most in harm's way are the roughly 19,000 troops in Afghanistan and the 160,000 in Iraq. Our hearts are with them. We pray for their safe return to their families by next Christmas.
Communications technology is a wonderful thing. It can help keep military families in closer touch than ever before.
Lt. Lee Kelley of the 222nd Field Artillery, a Utah National Guard unit deployed at Ramadi in Iraq, wrote on his blog (www.wordsmithatwar.blog-city.com
) this week:
"We are still fighting a war in a very deadly region. We are still focused, and working hard. We work our shifts and immerse ourselves in our duties and make the most of each moment. But we are completely aware of the spirit of the Holidays that is happening in our homes [back in Utah]. We hum Christmas tunes. We want to be there, but we accept that we cannot. Many of us will use an instant messenger service and Web-cam or satellite phone to see and hear our loved ones on Christmas day. Technology does shorten the miles, and for that we are definitely thankful."
He writes, though, that since he cannot be with his children this Christmas, the experience will be bittersweet.
To Lt. Kelley and all our other men and women in uniform around the world, to our soldiers and sailors, Marines and airmen and airwomen, and to their children and sweethearts, parents and siblings who will miss them tonight, we offer a Merry Christmas, together with our thanks and a promise: Your sacrifices are not forgotten.