Friends, Family and Screaming Eagles:
It is always difficult to be away from loved ones during the holidays. But like those in the 101st Airborne Division who have gone before us and served in places like the forests of Bastogne, the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Iraq, and the mountains of Afghanistan, we are proud to be answering the Nation's call again this Holiday Season. Most of all we are thankful for all the support of our friends and loved ones at home which allows us to do what we do here each day.

While we are busy here in Afghanistan this holiday season, we are fully aware that the holidays are a busy time for everyone. Nearly every time I interviewed by a reporter here, especially during holidays, I am asked if I am concerned that the American people at home don't seem to be paying much attention to what is going on here in Afghanistan anymore. I am not; in fact, I consider it a sign of success and a compliment to our troops who are doing a great job in a very challenging environment that most Americans will enjoy their holidays in peace with their families and friends.

I do ask all to remember that this peace and freedom has not come without cost. Back home, throughout the country, there are Gold Star Families who will celebrate the holidays without their loved ones. Recognizing that this is an especially difficult time of the year for them, I would like to personally extend my most heartfelt gratitude for their Family's sacrifice and let them know that their loved ones will never be forgotten.

Our wounded warriors also deserve many thanks. Across military hospitals, both in the United States and around the world, many are recovering from wounds received in the service of our great nation. These wounded warriors are an inspiration to us all -- and I admire their drive, determination and strength of spirit.

I encourage you to let every Soldier, Civilian and family member know they are remembered and that they have our unconditional support, now and throughout the year.

I encourage all of you who are able to celebrate this holiday season with your loved ones to cherish this time, making wonderful memories. For those with loved ones currently deployed, take pride in knowing that it is their sacrifice which allows others to enjoy the holiday season. Because our troops are doing their jobs, we know that the world is a better and safer place as a result.

Maria and I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!

Page last updated Fri December 20th, 2013 at 04:34