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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Soldier's Christmas Poem And Other Wartime Seasonal Expressions of Light and Love

I meant to post the video below yesterday, a thoughtful reworking of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas called "A Soldier's Christmas Poem." Though the day has passed, the sentiment within its lines still rings true no matter what holiday you and your family personally celebrate.

Yes, it is meant to be the season of light and love. Though, sometimes, it doesn't feel that way, does it?

So many of us rushing around trying to get all of our holiday-related tasks done in time (and hoping we won't get too irritated bumping into so many others tending to their "to do" lists, too).

So many (this year especially) struggling just to keep food on a table and a roof over heads...the luxury of presents being entirely out of the question. So many others who, again, have to spend the holidays distracted -- wondering and worrying about loved ones deployed overseas.

In extended, a few more holiday-related clips and grafs.

I do hope that all of you have found ways to bring the beauty of the season into your life this year, sharing as much goodness as you can with those you love. Here's to a brighter and more loving 2010.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

John Blankenship, The Register-Herald:

Christmas often produces for us a sense of nostalgia.

The smell and taste and feel of the holidays offer comfort and joy, and as we go through the rituals of the seasonal celebration, we remember the ones past, and relive them as we make new memories. Perhaps the greatest gift the season can confer upon us is that it gives us back our tradition — a custom that some say is about to be lost to all but memory.

Political correctness increasingly is in vogue in the 21st century. Merry Christmas has been replaced with Happy Holidays. Nativity scenes have been boxed up and put away. Still, the familiar season offers a way of grounding ourselves — making for heartfelt continuity and stability throughout our lifetime.

It’s a time for reflection, for catching up on family stories.

Most of us love to spend the Christmas holidays with our families, but many cannot. More than 62 million of us will travel 50 miles or more to be with family. Most of our 2.4 million military men and women will be unable to go home for the holidays.

More than half a million troops serving overseas will have little holiday happiness, especially the troops in Iraq and those stationed at other flash points on the global compass.

I often think of those brave men and women who must spend their holidays overseas. And whenever I see a soldier on leave in his desert camouflage, my heart gives out a reverent salute.

I appreciate the sacrifices they make for their loved ones and their country. Because they are willing to step out for what they believe in, regardless of the consequences, they are the true heroes of our time.

Yesterday's CBS Evening News report on deployed Marines at Camp Leatherneck (ABC News Christmas report):

A sweet local report from WPRI-Channel 12 [Providence, RI]: "A soldier from North Kingstown comes home for Christmas for the first time in 4 years."

A Soldier's Christmas Letter:

Precious CNN piece on a little girl's happiness at her father's homecoming from Afghanistan:

From the AP:

For Staff Sgt. Byron Krepcho, it doesn't feel like Christmas.

Instead of celebrating Christmas Eve with his family back in Dallas, Texas, Krepcho's unit on Thursday fired mortars at enemy positions from Command Post Michigan in the Pech River Valley in the tense Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan.

"Ah, Christmas," Krepcho said with a laugh. "I don't really think about it.

"I don't think about it as a holiday because I just treat it as another day I've been here. I just go on as any day that I spent here ... thinking about going home," said the member of the U.S. Army 2nd Battalion, 12th infantry unit.

Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks led to the U.S.-led ouster of the Taliban regime, U.S.-led coalition forces are fighting in the wild east of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked fighters and supporters of renegade warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are proving a stubborn foe.

WTNH-Channel 8 report on Christmas homecoming of Connecticut National Guard troops (they were training in Indiana, and will ship to Afghanistan soon):

From AP, raw footage of Soldiers of the 135 Expeditionary Command giving Christmas presents to fellow soldiers at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan:

Also from AP, more raw footage, this time of troops celebrating Christmas in Baghdad, Iraq:

Scott Fontaine, Tacoma News-Tribune:

Pvt. Amber Leonard burst into the office with a sack of presents slung over her shoulder. The Fort Lewis human resources specialist sported a wide smile and a headband with foam reindeer antlers, bells and white fuzz.

“Santa’s helper’s here!” she announced.

She reached into the sack – really just a 50-gallon trash bag – and handed out wrapped packages. Each contained candy and other comforts for the troops of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, a gift from the unit’s family readiness group back at Fort Lewis.

Leonard, a 26-year-old California native, helped deliver the presents around the unit buildings at the massive Victory Base Complex. For some soldiers who weren’t in their office, she left a stack of gifts near their door.

“You make a really good Santa Claus,” Pfc. Mitchell Fosman told Leonard after she dropped off packages at the public affairs office.

“Thanks,” she replied. “But remember: I’m just his helper.”

The war was put on hold for Christmas for thousands of troops based at the massive Victory Base Complex in Baghdad, where soldiers spent their day attending church services, playing video games, throwing a football around the gravel paths of the housing pads or talking to loved ones online.

Leonard, on her first deployment, spread Christmas cheer around the buildings that comprise 4th Brigade’s headquarters on Camp Liberty. She visited the brigade’s tactical operations center, where Friday was no holiday for the soldiers overseeing combat missions across the brigade’s area of operations of northwest Baghdad and surrounding areas. The soldiers spent much of their day listening to radio chatter, staring at maps and monitoring aerial surveillance video feeds, but they did stop to tear into the packages and compare what they received.

“Merry Christmas, everyone!” Leonard yelled as she closed the door behind her.

Santa, Bring my Soldier Home by the Stunners:

Christmas message by President and Mrs. Obama:

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