In 2012, Christmas and New Year’s day happen to fall on my standard off-duty times. I go back to work the day after each. That was simply the luck of the draw in terms of my current non-overtime schedule.
That said, there are multiple tens of thousands of American soldiers stationed all about the planet, in Germany and Europe (recently, 80,000), in Iraq (4,000+), in South Korea on the DMZ (USFK, 28,000+), in Afghanistan (68,000), on Okinawa and in the USFJ (over 35,000) who don’t get days off and who will be working and conducting patrols and engaging in firefights and disabling IEDs and wearing armor and helmets and carrying M4s.
They are working on problems and stationed at posts in the rain and the cold at all hours of the day and night. They stand watch over our freedom. They are assigned to places they don’t really want to be; their families are bereft one very important person during this holiday season.
That said, I am reminded of one man who sacrificed 57 of his personal Christmases for our troops between 1942 and 1988: Bob Hope.
This is what he did:
[Historical note: the American invasion of Peleliu in World War II on September 15th, 1944, was begun by the 1st Marines. This assault, in the Palau Islands, had the highest casualty rate of any amphibious invasion in terms of men and materiel in the entire Pacific Theater. The 1st Marine Division suffered over 6,500 casualties -- over half of the division itself.]
Bob Hope in Cu Chi, Vietnam, Christmas of 1966.
During Phyllis Diller’s first tour with Bob Hope in Vietnam, when she observed the conditions to which our American soldiers were subjected, she began to cry just prior to taking the stage. Hope took her aside and said stop it. That’s the last thing these men need to see. Reign it in. They’re here for some brief relief from their plight and you’ve got to do your best to keep things upbeat.
That was Bob Hope.
And those were — then — and now — our American Troops.
They made their sacrifices way back when. And make their sacrifices now.
Year after year after year, during the Christmas season.
Throw a prayer their way, if you will. Remember them in your thoughts at night.
God bless the American Soldier.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of my visitors, writers and readers.
Thanks for all the wonderful, incredible, glorious memories, Bob.