It’s official – the Holiday Season is upon us. And that means that many of us are busy juggling work schedules, Christmas shopping and holiday family plans. But one group of special Americans already know that they will be separated from their loved ones – our military families.

I had an opportunity this morning to interview one of my heroes, Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gen. Franks took time out of his busy schedule to speak to me about what it’s like being deployed overseas during the holidays and the challenges troops and their families face each year.

Not surprisingly, Gen. Franks made less light of his own experiences deployed during Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as countless other deployments. Rather, he chose to focus on his great admiration and gratitude for our troops. Here’s some of what he had to say:

It’s a time of the year when you think about selfless service and I hope all Americans recognize the sacrifice these young people are making to give our grandchildren and theirs a chance for a free and enjoyable life in this country and its not free for them – we are blessed in this country in a way that we ought to pause from time to time to recognize the sacrifice they are making and they deserve our respect and want to say thanks for all that they do!

He noted that his daughter is currently married to a Soldier deployed in Baghdad this year who won’t be home for Christmas. And after pressing him a little, I got him to tell me a story that I had heard about when a rare cedar or birch tree went missing from a Sheik’s front yard and ended up decorated with Christmas lights in the Command Post in Saudia Arabia in the early nineties.

So don’t forget to keep the troops and their families back home in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season and if you don’t get the present you wanted – then be thankful that you have each other.

Happy Holidays!