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2010 Holiday Message

Message by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington, DC, Wednesday, November 24, 2010

During this upcoming season of joy, thanksgiving, and celebration, I want to extend my warmest greetings, deep thanks, and best wishes, to the brave men and women of the United States military, and to their families.

I know the holiday season is especially difficult for those service members who are unable to spend it with their loved ones.  These troops sacrifice their holidays, so that fellow Americans can safely enjoy theirs.  In doing so, they are part of a tradition that dates back to our nation’s founding.

On Christmas Night, December 25, 1776, General George Washington and his band of 2,400 men crossed the icy Delaware River, won victories against British and German troops, and stirred new hope into the struggle for freedom and liberty.

Nearly one year after that famed crossing, the Continental Congress celebrated the hard-fought victory of our troops at Saratoga, New York, by proclaiming the first ever national day of Thanksgiving.

Today, more than two hundred years later, thanks to the efforts and toughness of the men and women of the U.S. military, the cause of freedom and liberty endures.  And though nothing can extinguish the pain of being away from family during this time, our troops can find comfort in knowing that the American people are forever indebted to them and grateful for their selflessness and commitment to America’s security.

To the troops who watch over our nation: I thank you for your service, and I pray for your safe return home.  To the families who share their loved ones to defend our great nation: I thank you for your sacrifices and support.

May God forever protect and bless you, your families, and our nation.

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