President George W. Bush sent his best wishes for the holiday season and those of first lady Laura Bush to servicemembers around the world in a message broadcast on the Pentagon Channel.
Here is the text of the President's holiday message:
"Laura and I send greetings to all the men and women of the U.S. military this holiday season.
"This time of year, our thoughts turn to rejoicing and reflection, gratitude and cheer, love and peace.
"Throughout our history, love of country and the hope of peace on earth have inspired America's armed forces, from the frozen fields of France to the jungles of Southeast Asia. Around the globe, today's men and women in uniform are carrying on that noble tradition. You are helping bring freedom, security and peace to millions in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, and you are helping to protect the American people here at home.
"Many of you are spending this holiday season far from home, but you are close in our thoughts and prayers.
"I am sometimes asked what I will miss most about being president. Above all, I am going to miss being your commander in chief. Every one of you volunteered to serve the United States, and in this dangerous time, I thank you for making the world freer, our country safer and all Americans proud.
"Happy holidays and may God bless you."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
In this season of hope, I want to say how uplifting it has been to get to know so many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines during the last 24 months.
Many of you are far from home, and I'm sure there's no place you would rather be than with your loved ones. But know that they, and all Americans, are free and secure because of what the men and women of the U.S. military are doing all over the world -- from Fort Lewis to Fort Drum, from Korea to Kosovo, from Bagram to Baghdad.
The holidays are a time to reflect on the kind of nation we are: a nation whose character and decency are embodied in our armed forces. Those who risk life and limb every time they set foot "outside the wire." The medical personnel, engineers, and civil affairs teams who improve the lives of thousands. And all are volunteers.
To the families of our forces: thank you for sharing your loved ones to defend us all. To our troops: we admire your selflessness and pray for your success and safe return home. And to all: happy holidays.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff evoked the Revolutionary War's Battle of Trenton in the annual holiday message he issued to U.S. servicemembers and their families today.
Here is the text of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's message:
"Throughout our history, when faced with war at this special time of the year, American Servicemen and women have risen with crisis and fought with valor -- while providing their fellow citizens precious moments to enjoy the season's joyous spirit with loved ones at home.
"This tradition harkens to our first holiday season as an independent Nation, 232 years ago. The bleak winter of 1776 found this Republic and its leader, General Washington, with a difficult and uncertain future. At twilight on the twenty-fifth of December, faced with one of the darkest moments of the American Revolution, 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 the war, and, ultimately, our road to victory.
"Among Washington's troops that December was Thomas Paine, who appealed to the honor and patriotic duty of his fellow soldiers 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.'
"This holiday season, more than 280,000 modern-day patriots are deployed around the globe, ensuring their families and friends -- and ours -- can celebrate in peace and comfort. Let us take pause to honor their sacrifice.
"We also offer our thoughts and prayers to the wounded, their families, and the families of the fallen. Theirs is an emptiness we cannot know -- made only deeper during the holidays. Although their sacred void can never be filled, let us look deep into our hearts and honor them all -- for they richly deserve the love and thanks of a grateful Nation.
"On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our families, I thank you for all that you do for our country. We wish you and your loved ones a festive holiday season, and tidings of peace in the coming New Year."