Robin notes: The following story comes from an Army Reserve 1st Lt. who now commands a unit near his home. But Christmas six years ago was spent in a faraway place indeed with the Florida National Guard, where in those days he served as an NCO. For his safety and security, we are identifying him as "American Soldier J":
Christmas 2004, I was in Ad-Diwaniyah, Iraq, with almost one year in country and looking forward to getting out of Iraq to return home. I worked the night shift on the signal equipment most of the year and I remember the week before Christmas walking back from late night chow, in the cold, with Sgt. P, and seeing American and foreign soldiers had put Christmas lights up on some of the buildings: not too many (to be dangerous) but just enough to remind us all of the season.
As for myself, I had a small, one-foot Christmas tree in my little room that my mom sent me and some large Christmas cards that the kids at a church I attended sent me. The Christmas cards were great and everyone in my platoon enjoyed having them posted on the wall in our common area.
My wife and two sons (ages two and three) had sent me a Christmas care package. I really missed them that year. I wished I didn't have to be so far away and leave my wife all alone with the large task of taking care of the home and such young babies all on her own.
On Christmas Day, the chow hall had a giant Christmas dinner and was decorated with Santa, ribbon, and lights. I think some of the foreign troops really enjoyed an American Christmas dinner. That night, one of the guys in the platoon had his guitar out and we sang some Christmas songs.
Christmas cards from school children, posted in the soldiers' common room, brought Christmas home, even in Iraq.
These days, I'm a 1st Lt. in the Army Reserves back here in the States and now, I'm the Company Commander. I have the task of deploying one of my men to Kuwait. He leaves December 27 and will be on deployment for a year. I also have two other soldiers overseas and some more away this Christmas at training. Hard on their families, that's for sure.
Christmas is the best time of the year, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Sometimes, God pulls us back and puts us in places we don't want to be during Christmas and gives us time to reflect on all the many things we have to thank Him for.
'American Soldier J'"
"True Tales of Christmas" ... To be Continued ...