The holiday season is a very special time of year, a time filled with joy and celebration, a time to gather with family and friends and to share wonderful memories.

Christmas 1944 was a difficult time for our Screaming Eagles holding Bastogne, Belgium. It came in the midst of the famous Battle of the Bulge, the last-ditch major German offensive in which the German High Command threw thousands of tanks and troops into what was perceived to be the weak point in the Allied lines, deep in the Ardennes region of northeastern France.

It turned out to be one of our finest moments.

Today, our division celebrates the holiday season while we again have troops serving overseas in defense of our nation.

The holiday season is a busy time for all of us. I ask that we take a few moments from the hustle and bustle to focus on the individuals who've sacrificed and made the enjoyment of the holidays possible.

On the other side of the world, we have thousands of Screaming Eagles in Afghanistan, on patrol alongside our Afghan partners. Their holiday season will be spent doing the dangerous work of defending freedom, helping to create a better future for the people of Afghanistan and a safer world for us all. Those Soldiers far away embody the holiday spirit, even as they spend their holidays on duty rather than in celebration.

In our hometowns, there are Gold Star Families who are preparing to spend the holidays without their loved ones. The holidays are an exceptionally difficult time of the year for them. I would like to personally thank them for their family's sacrifice and let them know that their loved ones will never be forgotten.

In our military hospitals and warrior transition units, wounded warriors recover from their wounds this holiday season. These wounded warriors have strong spirits -- and I admire their drive and determination and am inspired by them.

Each of these individuals, whether Soldier, Civilian, or Family member, has given so much on our behalf. In this season of giving, I encourage you to let them know they are remembered and that they have our unconditional support, now and throughout the year.

For those who are able to be with family this year, cherish this time and make wonderful memories.

For those with loved ones deployed, take pride and satisfaction that their sacrifice is allowing others to enjoy the holiday season. If we are doing our job, others don't need to worry about terrorist attacks and can celebrate without worry. We can sleep well at night knowing we have Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (AASLT) protecting us.

Finally, as you go about celebrating this season, please take precautions and be safe, as accidents tend to increase this time of year. Don't let the stress of the holiday season get to you. Physical exercise goes a long way at combating stress. And, if you need to talk to someone, I encourage you to seek out someone to help.

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

Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year!

Air Assault!

Eagle 6