I have sat at home with my mother and my brother looking at a sad Christmas tree. It was sad because my father was deployed and would not be home for Christmas. We would be at my grandparents on Christmas day and all would be brighter but still, my father was away fighting in a war.

In 1941, days before Christmas the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Men and boys by the thousands lined up to join up. They were gone before Christmas. The first of many years without husbands, fathers, sons and brothers being away for the holidays. Families gathered around the Christmas table and said prayers for the safety of their loved ones, away fighting the war.

That Christmas a song by Irving Berlin was aired on the Kraft Music Hall.

Thousands of miles away from home, men huddled around small fires trying to stay warm. They ate what they could. They dreamed of being home with their families if for only that one night. Further back from the front line, men sat under cover eating K-rats and wishing they were home and that the food was better. They dreamed of the meals they shared with their loved ones only a few short years ago.

If they were lucky, it wasn’t just K-rats, sometimes it was real food, turkey or ham. Something to remind them of home.

One of the small comforts was music. The radio would play music. By Christmas of 1943 the song was often requested by troops at USO shows where the singer was performing.

I hesitated about doing it because invariably it caused such a nostalgic yearning among the men, that it made them sad. Heaven knows, I didn’t come that far to make them sad. For this reason, several times I tried to cut it out of the show, but these guys just hollered for it.

My great uncle flew missions of Europe during WWII and was shot down. He recalled that the men hated the song but had to listen to it. It brought out so many hard memories. Other veterans of WWII have told me the same thing when asked.

A song so bitter sweet. To hurt so much to hear and remember yet to bring back those memories of what waited at home. The love that still kindled around the Christmas tree. The love of family. To know that those back home were praying for that soldier.

It is past Christmas this year. Still take the time to think of those that are still deployed, that are spending this holiday season far from home.

I never served in the military. My job was to support the US Army by keeping computers alive and well and by helping to build better software to keep our troops safer and to allow them to kill our enemies before they were killed.

I thank each of you that served. I’ve known to many veterans that left a part of themselves behind. Again, thank you.

Quote is from an interview given by Bing Crosby

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By awa

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