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Americans have served across the world during holidays

By Staff | Jan 2, 2009

Throughout America’s history, when faced with war at this special time of the year, the men and women of our armed forces have stood tall and fought with valor. There have been many times throughout our history when Americans in uniform have spent the holidays in war zones and were stationed at posts far from home. As we celebrate this holiday season, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are serving in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, in places like Korea and Kosovo, and on ships and submarines at sea around the world.

During much of 2008, I have been serving in Iraq. I am continually impressed and inspired by my fellow service members’ love of country and dedication to duty. They are serving under difficult circumstances that can be made especially hard this time of year.

They have inherited this tradition of service and sacrifice from their predecessors during the American Revolution. The winter of 1776 found General Washington and our new republic with a difficult and uncertain future. At twilight on Christmas day, faced with one of the darkest moments of our struggle for freedom, Washington’s Army crossed the icy Delaware River to defeat enemy forces at the Battle of Trenton. Their bravery on that cold winter s night altered the course of history.

Among Washington’s troops at the Battle of Trenton was Thomas Paine, who appealed to the honor and patriotic duty of his fellow service members with these famous words: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

It is the courage and sacrifice of the more than 280,000 modern-day patriots currently deployed around the world, and that of their predecessors, that enables the Eastern Panhandle to enjoy this safe and peaceful holiday season.

We must never forget the fallen, the wounded and their families. Theirs is an emptiness that is made only deeper during the holidays. Although their void can never be filled, let us take pause and look deep into our hearts to honor them.

My fellow service members and I have felt the pride, affection and admiration of my fellow West Virginians from the hundreds of letters that I have received from Shepherdstown and the Eastern Panhandle. On behalf of my fellow troops and our families, I thank you for the support you give us.

We wish you and your loved ones a festive holiday season and peace in the coming New Year.

– Tom Maiden lives in Shepherdstown with his wife and four children. When not serving as a Citizen Sailor , Tom works part-time teaching insurance & financial planning at Shepherd University and owns a financial planning practice in Shepherdstown.