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Secretary Rumsfeld Holiday Message to the Troops

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23, 2002 – The message of the holiday season is peace on Earth. Yet, despite our best hopes, history shows that this season of peace has often been a time of war. And, this year, it is youthe men and women of the U.S. militarywho have been called upon to spend these holidays standing watch on the frontiers of freedom.

Throughout the history of our country, it has been so. From 1776, when General George Washington knelt in the snow before a turning point in the American Revolution, to the frozen fields of France and Germany during the First and Second World Wars, to the frigid outposts of Korea.

And today, once again, Americans are stationed across the globein the icy mountains of Afghanistan, the sands of Africa and the Persian Gulf, and here in the American homelanddefending our people from terror.

You do this because you love your countryand because you know that, while free people may stop to celebrate this holiday season, the enemy we face does not pause or rest. For freedom to survive, it must be defended at all times, wherever necessary. And that is what you do so well.

It's not easy to be far from home during the holidays, no matter how critical the mission. It's tough on your families as well. They worry about you, and endure long periods of separation--separation that can be especially difficult at this time of year when home and family are so dear. Your families also sacrifice for our country. We are proud to them--just as we are proud of each of you.

To those here at home, and the many stationed in far away places across the globe, may the joy of the holidays shine in your hearts --brighter than ever before.

And wherever you are, know that as families across America gather for the holidays, their thoughts and prayers are with you. In their hearts, Americans know that they can celebrate in this season of peace only because brave men and women like you voluntarily stand ready to defend freedom and defeat terror.

I thank each of you for all you do for our country and for peace in the world. May God bless you.

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