24 December 2003, Balad, Iraq
I wish to thank the people of this great nation for the generous and loving support showered upon me, and my fellow soldiers, during this time of service. We have left our wives and husbands, parents and children, family and friends to face uncertain life in a distant country; distant both in miles and ideology. Perhaps this separation was not of our own choosing, but is one which we honorably bear because we have given our oath, our promise, to keep our people and children safe from the tyranny of a lost people, a people which does not have the courage to face us, but must rely on acts of terror and deliberate deaths of innocents to further their aims and desires.
This time of year is especially hard on us as we Americans celebrate family and reflect upon our lives; themes which unite our people in diversity. Though we celebrate in different fashions - Thanksgiving, Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa among others, we remain united in the sure knowledge that we, citizens of a great nation, are free.
Our mission here has changed since we first set foot upon this foreign soil - from war making to peace teaching. We see the progress we have made here and the bright future these newly free people will forge for themselves.
Our own expectations of returning to our homes, our families, our loved ones, by Christmas have been disappointed; but when I see the gifts, the cards, the presents sent to our soldiers for no other reason than to shed a bit of light and support, I know we are not forgotten in your hearts as you move along your daily
lives, readying yourselves for this holiday.
So I will wish you a Happy and a Merry Christmas from this soggy, muddy and cold base in Iraq - and thank you from the bottom of my heart.