Secretary of Defense Holiday Message to the Troops

This holiday season, families all across America will gather with neighbors and friends to rekindle old friendships, revive honored traditions, and renew the hope and love that is part of the season. And as they do, their thoughts and prayers will naturally turn to you, the men and women whose mission it is to defend peace and freedom — especially now when they are under such unprecedented attack.

As America's armed forces, you are the sharp sword of freedom. You fight without complaint on foreign seas, in dangerous skies and on hostile lands. You voluntarily put your lives at risk and sacrifice your comfort and the comfort of your families so that all of our fellow citizens can enjoy the blessings and the benefits of liberty.

It's a sacrifice made even more precious by the fact that you render it so willingly. In describing the citizen soldiers of an earlier era, historian Stephen Ambrose wrote, "At the core, they knew the difference between right and wrong and were unwilling to live in a world in which evil triumphed. So they fought and they won, and we and those yet to be born are eternally grateful."

Like those heroes of that earlier era, you, too, stand against evil — the shadowy evil of terrorism. And like them, you also will be victorious. Of that, there is no doubt. So as the stars of the winter sky shine brightly and the prayers of people everywhere who long for peace look up to meet them, know that the hearts and prayers of Americans are with you.

We salute your courage. We appreciate your sacrifice, and we pray each day for your success. On behalf of the president, the Department of Defense, and all the American people, I extend our warmest and most heartfelt wishes for a safe and a happy holiday.