Service & Sacrifice: A Christmas Prayer

Praying for the safety of hundreds of thousands of brave American troops serving around the world during this holiday season.

U.S. Air Force security forces patrol the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on December 1, 2022.

By Tom Sileo Published on December 23, 2022

Christmas is a time for family and faith. For the loved ones of approximately 200,000 currently deployed U.S. troops, it is also a time to pray for the safety of their beloved soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

Since joining The Stream almost eight years ago, I have tried to use this space to remind Americans about the sacrifices of American service members and their families. As often as possible, photos and columns are posted on The Stream to show the brave and selfless work being performed around the world by our nation’s volunteer warriors. I hope that these images and stories make you feel as fortunate and proud to be an American as I do.

Following last year’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the biggest military story of 2022 was undoubtedly the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladmir Putin’s decision to invade his neighbor caused a substantial increase in U.S. troop levels in Europe, where more than 100,000 Americans are now stationed. With no end in sight to the bloody conflict, thousands more American service members will almost certainly deploy around the continent in 2023.

There is no more dangerous place for American warfighters this Christmas than the Middle East, where appoximately 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in neighboring in Syria face constant threats from terrorist groups, Iran, Russia and even Turkey. Throughout the year, The Stream has been reporting on the rocket and drone attacks that U.S. troops are consistently facing in both countries. We must continue to pray for all American forces in harm’s way, particularly as they serve away from their families during Christmas.

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The primary mission in Iraq and Syria is fighting the remnants of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. As we saw in July when 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri was finally taken out by a CIA drone strike, terrorists are still lurking in the shadows and the threat remains real and constant. Americans are fortunate to be protected by volunteer warriors who are willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that there is never another large-scale terrorist attack carried out on American soil.

We cannot forget the tens of thousands of U.S. troops spending Christmas deployed around Asia, where communist regimes in China and North Korea remain the biggest obstacle to peace. More American troops arrived in South Korea just before Thanksgiving and will continue to defend that country and Japan from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s increasingly erratic behavior, including firing dozens of missiles over both nations.

While about 200,000 American service members will spend Christmas apart from their loved ones, some deployed troops have thankfully made it home in time for the holidays. As you can see in the images embedded below, a U.S. Army unit recently returned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina after spending the past nine months serving in Europe. We welcome these heroes home and rejoice that they will have an opportunity to celebrate Christmas Day with their families.

https://twitter.com/18airbornecorps/status/1605191201627537409?s=20&t=B3o-oxWN-AMvo8ClM0YxqA

As we pray for Blue Star families – active duty service members and their immediate relatives – we cannot forget America’s national treasures: Gold Star families, who have lost loved ones overseas. Christmas and other surrounding holidays are often a time of great sadness for those who knew and loved heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Please say a special prayer for these strong and precious Americans, especially children who will spend Christmas without a departed father or mother.

Without the sacrifices of our nation’s military community, we would likely be spending Christmas under attack by terrorists or other rogue actors. We should never take the gift of being able to live in relative peace for granted, especially as we see innocent civilians in war-torn countries like Ukraine and Syria suffer the unimaginable horrors of war.

To our nation’s troops, veterans and military families: thank you for your service and sacrifice. We are grateful and proud that you’ve chosen to wear our country’s uniform and shoulder freedom’s biggest burdens. From all of us at The Stream, Merry Christmas and our most fervent prayers for a safe New Year.

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the just-released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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