LISBON, N.D. (Dec. 18, 2009) -- North Dakota National Guard members received Christmas presents in the form of smiles this year when they delivered gifts to veterans.

Army and Air Guard troops delivered the gifts as part of their annual journey to bring cheer to residents of the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon. One of the volunteers, Lt. Col. Rick Smith, said that it was a great example of the Guard coming together to make a difference.

"Our purpose was to make a difference in a veteran's life," Smith said. "They have sacrificed so much, and it is because of their service to their country that today I am able to wear this uniform and stand for something bigger than myself. I am honored to share stories and time with these individuals who have given so much."

The North Dakota Army and Air National Guard alternate the coordination of this popular event each year. Under the leadership of State Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Miller, the Army Guard took the lead this year.

"It's important to remember the veterans that have served before us," said Miller. "Honoring them and remembering their service and sacrifices on behalf of our nation is the right thing to do. They're true American heroes."

A group of approximately 40 volunteers from both the Army and Air Guard spent the day with the Veterans singing Christmas carols, sharing military stories and creating lasting impressions and friendships. Guardsmen began donating the gifts in October, and then volunteered their time to wrap and deliver the presents.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,400 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently,about 800 North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, sufficient forces remain in the state for emergency response and homeland defense, officials said.