How a War Can Interrupt The Spirit Of Christmas

On this day, 68 years ago, the German Army launched a major winter offensive against US troops along the Franco-German border, in an area of the Ardennes forrest. This battle, while known in textbooks as the Ardennes Offensive and to the Germans as The Von Rundstedt Offensive or, in code, Operation “Wacht Am Rhein” – Watch On The Rhine – would go on to be commonly reffered to as “The Battle Of The Bulge” The Battle Of the Bulge”, after the bulge into the Allied lines that the German forces created.

Okay, I hear most of you yawning. Hang with me here, just for a second.

The reason I bring up this battle, is what it meant in terms of our military. It was 6 months

C-rations from WW2. The caramels and cigarettes are personal items.

C-rations from WW2. The caramels and cigarettes are personal items.

after the Normandy invasion, when we thought we had the German army on the run. Just before the attack, Allied generals were predicting the war to be over by Christmas 1944, or early 1945 at the latest. Along hundreds of miles of front lines, soldiers prepared to celebrate Christmas, to read letters from home, to have a feast – be it turkey, C-rations, or Spam.

Then, on the morning of December 16, 1944, the German Army struck.

This battle saw the US fighting man at his absolute best. Lightly armed paratroops held off German armour and elite Waffen-SS divisions for weeks, not days as the Germans thought. An entire Army Group pulled out of a battle, executed a 90 degree turn, and marched down snow and ice-covered roads all through Christmas Eve and Day to relieve surrounded, exhausted troops. Engineers, armed with nothing but pistols and some plastic explosives, blew up bridges, sometimes with German tanks on or at them, trying to delay the Panzers’ onslaught. And all along the line, regardless of unit or experience or training, our fighting men fought and died, starved and froze, for people they didn’t know. For strangers. For us.

They still do today.

A certain Lt. Colonel some of us know and love is breathing sand and .. well .. crap, training

NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan

NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan

up Afghans to secure their own country. Other fighting men and women are stationed around the world, are on ships and submarines all over – and under – the Earth’s oceans, and are flying or ready to take off at a moment’s notice. They are dozens, hundreds, even thousands of miles away from home, away from family, away from friends, away from everything they hold dear. For strangers. For us.

So in this week leading into Christmas, take a moment. When you’re stressed out in checkout lines, when traffic is driving you nuts (or vice versa, Tori!), when the kids and the family and the whole holiday psycho-fest is about to make you scream, take a moment. And think about someone, who doesn’t have the chance to be caught up in traffic or lines or shopping, who will spend the day with a rifle in hand, or manning a catapult on a carrier, or watching a radar screen while they wish they could be in the middle of that madhouse you’re condemning to the farthest reaches of Hades.

And remember – they are out there, for YOU. That is their present, to all of us.

Coming up – How The Spirit of Christmas Can Interrupt a War.

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33 Responses to How a War Can Interrupt The Spirit Of Christmas

  1. El Guapo says:

    Sadly, there are some things that take no break for anything.
    And honors to anyone who takes up that mantle and responsibility.

  2. unfetteredbs says:

    having three nephews serving.. I thank you for this gentle reminder

  3. I’m having 2 air force kids over my place for Christmas this year, both stationed in Rota (NATO base), met them by mere coincidence a few weeks ago, nice kids.

  4. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Great post, John.

  5. rarasaur says:

    What a well-expressed reminder of a wonderful present that we all get each year from strangers. πŸ™‚ Thanks for a lovely post!

  6. aFrankAngle says:

    Good post … not only the historical tribute of the 6-month battle’s start, but also applying to today!

  7. Archon's Den says:

    Thanx for the post, John. I try to say something like that occasionally, but you say it better. LtC Tanker, and his brothers and sisters – OUR brothers and sisters – deserve the respect and remembrance. Ooh, ooh, part two upcoming! I’m on tenterhooks. That one back there should keep me awake.

    • Thank you very much, sir. I try to keep our fighting men and women in the public eye, even at this time of year when there’s so much more publicity. And I like to tie it back to history, so that this generation of fighting folk don’t feel so alone, that they know others have been through something similar before. AND to remind the public that maybe, just maybe, that old man standing on the bus might just be a hero – but that he deserves the seat your younger posterior is occupying either way.
      Even if that posterior belongs to one of us old farts, right, Archon? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

  8. Lyle says:

    Good stuff John! We have such a proud heritage to live up to and many hands to shake in the present.

  9. Thanks, Lyle. Like I said, part two should drop in the next day or two – I’ll let you know! πŸ™‚

  10. I think what you’ve shared is very important. We have many comforts at the expense of the sacrifice of others. I appreciate the message, John.

  11. benzeknees says:

    A big thank you to everyone serving for me!

  12. Elyse says:

    Nuts, John. Even though I have (and have had) family in the military, sometimes I need a reminder. Thanks for giving it to me so eloquently.

  13. fasab says:

    Excellent post. Well said.
    You might like this

    • The saddest part of that? The uniforms might change, the weapons might change, but the faces could be from Vietnam, or World War 2, or any of the many wars since the invention of photography.
      A great piece of video – thanks, my friend.

  14. BrainRants says:

    John, thanks for this. You and others are correct – the times and technology changes, but war, generally, does not. Thank you for the thought… I really appreciate it.

    • I know you feel a bit .. uncomfortable .. with the “thank you”s, but really – you’re the one ankle-deep in the stuff (headfirst, of course! πŸ˜€ ). So – tanks a lot! πŸ˜‰

  15. tom says:

    sacrafices are great even more than the soldiers kknow t the time.

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