Being a Soldier During Christmas

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The title is right — I said Christmas, not holidays. This is the Christmas season for me, Hanukkah for some, Kwanzaa for others. I am not sure what the Zoroastrians believe in, but that is cool as well.

I just wanted to clear that up. Christmas at my house starts the day after Thanksgiving. But, for soldiers, sailors, fly boys and Marines, it is just another day to miss home, do their jobs and keep the rest of us safe. Christmas is the day when the dining facility (we used to call it the “mess hall”) decorates every known food group with red and green food coloring and piles enough of it on your plate to literally feed an Army.

On Christmas Day, soldiers really want to be busy and get tired, which, for soldiers, is not a problem. The more tired you are and the busier you get, the less time you have to worry about your kids, your parents, your girlfriend and your boyfriend.

But, despite keeping busy, you still worry. There is something missing from the day that refuses to let go, even in the intensity of combat.

I know of no other endeavor, except possibly childbirth (so I’ve been told), in which your very being is twisted, tested and moved in such a way that you never forget every single moment of it and those in it with you. Yet, when you come out of the combat, besides being thankful you made it and wondering if you did your job, you think of home. You miss the simplest damn things: how the sky looks out your bedroom window or what clean laundry smells like in your house. You miss the change of seasons, and how your brother and sisters are pains in the ass. You miss the feel of your loved one’s hand, you miss reading the paper in the morning , watching some TV show, the way the rain fell on your face in the spring, or the sound your pick up truck made when you started “her” up. You miss your life, the life you had before you had this.

You worry about the bills at home, you worry about your kids and you worry about the woman or man you are married to. You worry your kids will, and are, growing up without you. You worry because you are not in control of a big part of your life.

Take a moment during this time off, for most of us, this Christmas week and pray to your Gods for the safety of those who serve. While you are on your knees, thank those same Gods that it is not your ass that is in Iraq or Afghanistan. We cannot take the burden away from our soldiers but realizing what they go through and appreciating them for it, will lessen the weight some … what a gift that will be.

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Colonel David Hunt, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a FOX News military analyst and the author of the New York Times bestseller They Just Don’t Get It. He has extensive operational experience in counterterrorism, special operations, and intelligence operations. He has trained the FBI and Special Forces in counterterrorism tactics, served as the security adviser to six different Olympic Games, testified as an expert at many major terrorist trials, and lectured at the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency. You can read his complete bio here.