Wishing you all a joy-filled Christmas!
“Gloria in excelsis Deo” – King’s College Choir:
A special Christmas greeting to our troops at home and overseas.
Soldiers celebrate in Iraq:
Although morale is high and the threat significantly lower as the U.S. troops head in the last year of service here, Crane says the emotional struggles troops face remain the same: loneliness and separation anxiety.
“They mostly talk about missing their families or martial issues they are dealing with,” said Crane, of Portland, Oregon.
“It’s about kids, wives and husbands,” said Crane, adding that most who have served multiple tours in Iraq are “happy to be back and see progress that’s been made.”
“The fact that (Iraq) is starting to be a country on its own again,” Crane said, “makes many realize that all the work and sacrifice has not been in vain.”
Top US generals are in Afghanistan today, including Gen. David Petraeus:
Gen. David Petraeus started his Christmas visit by traveling in a C-130 cargo plane from the capital, Kabul, to the northern province of Kunduz, telling troops with the U.S. Army’s 1-87, 10th Mountain Division that on this day, there was “no place that (he) would rather be than here” where the “focus of our effort” was….
Petraeus handed out commemorative coins to troops who had served for 3 or more years since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and awarded several medals, including three purple hearts. He then went by helicopter over desert mountain peaks to the western province of Farah, where the Italian army’s 7th Alpini is stationed.
And a happy holiday reunion for many families as National Guard troops return home in time for Christmas weekend:
Susan Bradeen planned to give the best Christmas present – ever.
The Framingham mother of four – and grandmother of two – had it all mapped out Friday as she waited outside the Framingham Armory. The family would go to her sister’s house for Christmas Eve dinner, where her brother-in-law would play Santa.
Meanwhile, Bradeen’s husband, Sgt. 1st Class Dave Bradeen, would wait in the family’s pickup, until Santa called up one of their granddaughters, who asked a simple wish of the man in red: please pick up grandpa in Kuwait and fly him home.
At Santa’s signal, Bradeen would bound inside, surprising everyone except his wife and the brother-in-law.
“That’s what we’re going to do,” she said. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait.”
Bradeen’s National Guard unit, the 1060th Transportation Company, had deployed in January with the 164th Transportation Battalion. After months spent driving supplies and equipment for combat troops in Iraq without losing anyone, 420 battalion members were due back at several spots across the state, just in time for Christmas Eve.
The Pope sends a message of support to Chinese Catholics:
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China’s 10 million Catholics are split between followers of the Pope and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association – which is not in agreement with the Vatican and refuses to accept papal authority to appoint new bishops.
In his Christmas message “Urbi et Orbi, To the City and World”, Pope Benedict spoke directly of the situation.
He said:”May the birth of the Saviour strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his Church, may keep alive the flame of hope.
“May the love of “God-with-us” grant perseverance to all those Christian communities enduring discrimination and persecution, and inspire political and religious leaders to be committed to full respect for the religious freedom of all.”
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