Most of us love to spend Christmas with our families, but many cannot. Some numbers of this year's can-dos and cannots:
• More than 62 million of us will travel 50 miles or more to be with family.
• Most of our 2.4 million military men and women will be unable to go home for the holidays.
• More than a half million troops serving overseas will have little holiday happiness, especially the 138,000 in Iraq.
My saddest Christmases came when I was ages 19, 20 and 21 serving in the Army in World War II. The 86th (Blackhawk) Infantry Division took me far from my South Dakota home, first to Texas and California for training, then to France, Germany and the Philippines.
Some of my Blackhawk buddies and I often were watery-eyed when we heard the holiday hit song of 1943 and 1944 — Bing Crosby singing, I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams.
Despite unhappy holidays, nearly all of us who served in WWII were proud, determined and properly armed and equipped to help defeat would-be world conquerors Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Hirohito in Japan.
At age 80, I'd gladly volunteer for such highly moral duty again. But if I were eligible for service in Iraq, I would do all I could to avoid it. I would have done the same during the Vietnam War, as many of the politically connected did.
"Support Our Troops" is a wonderful patriotic slogan. But the best way to support troops thrust by unwise commanders in chief into ill-advised adventures like Vietnam and Iraq is to bring them home. Sooner rather than later. That should be our New Year's resolution.
© Copyright 2004 USA Today