Just received an email from one of our Marines in Iraq, Major Neil F. Murphy Jr. with Multi-National Force West in Fallujah, who writes:
“When you are deployed you’ve got to have the right mindset and find little things to be happy for and celebrate the simple things, Like hot coffee with some cocoa in it or a treat in the mail and being around friends (old and new). All kinds of people back home have sent stockings and trinkets for us to hand up around the camp and their thoughts let us know we’re appreciated.
My family is lucky enough to be mixed faith – I was raised Catholic and my wife and children are Jewish. So, even though I’m not Jewish, I will still gather with my Jewish friends here and help light a Menorah and enjoy the holiday with old and new friends. It also makes me feel closer to my own family. (Little note: Two years ago, my son lit the White House Menorah and we all hung out with The President and Mrs. Bush – It was after I returned from my first tour in Iraq – little different this year.)
For Christmas, while we miss our own families and would rather be home, we know our jobs are here right now and we know that we have each other here – a “family” in its own right. Of course, we will call home and talk to our loved ones and we will share a nice meal together and celebrate in our own way together and enjoy this moment that we share. Someday, I know I’ll look back fondly on it just as I do Christmases past. There really is something special about knowing that you are missing Christmas with your own family for something bigger than yourself and being there for each other.
One odd thing that I plan to do is gather some fellow Marines and watch “A Christmas story” on a videotape that my sister sent to me – a classic! Good for a few laughs.
I hope you have a great Christmas and don’t worry about us – we’re good to go. Like the Red Sox use to say – There’s always next year. Semper Fi, brother!”