Is it just me or do the holiday seasons sneak up on you too? It seems as though we have no sooner finished the bike season when the Holidays make their way into our thoughts. While some store their bikes or put battery tenders on for the winter, others just pray the weather will warm up to at least 40 degrees so they can sneak in a ride or two without snow or ice.
When you go into the store to buy some Halloween decorations and just about all you can see is Christmas decorations all over the department stores, it reminds you of how many shopping days you have left before Christmas! And, you find yourself thinking of Christmas past as well as the upcoming holidays, you beginning praying that you won't forget something like you did last year; speaking from experience here ya know.
I think we all have at least one Christmas we can remember the most. You know the one that just sticks out in your mind or stays in your heart. Maybe it was the best gift ever, the thing you wanted the most, or the family member you haven't seen in years. That one you will never forget.
The one I will never forget was Christmas of 1967. I was 18-years-old at the time and no longer in Kansas…Dorothy. I, and many others that year, was in a place called Vietnam. I proudly served with Alpha Co. 1st battalion 5th Marines in a place called Hoi An, and took a short R&R to China Beach. When I returned to my unit we had moved farther up north in the I corps to a place called Phu Loc. There was no snow that year, but plenty of rain, although the rain didn't dampen our Christmas spirit (no pun intended). I can remember how ingenuity came to the forefront with the American military personnel as the holiday season approached. For many, it was our first time away from home, family, and friends during the holidays. While back in the rear, we sometimes got to hear the Armed Forces Radio station play Christmas tunes and tell of the holiday season and what people were doing back home in the states. We were determined to have our Christmas, so the Marines who received care packages from home always shared with the others who didn't. That way, everybody had Christmas. Even though we may have been in the jungle, we celebrated Christmas with each other, that year, in 1967.
Ingenuity among the Marines, Soldiers, Navy, and Airmen was amazing. They made Christmas trees and decorations out of almost anything they could find, such as empty C-ration cans of all sizes, grenade pins that had been used of course, and Christmas cards made from C-ration boxes. Almost anything we had, we used. We were Americans and we were going to celebrate an American tradition no matter where we were, just like our forefathers did when they were called on by their country in defense of this nation.
Christmas 2007, some 40 years later, we have Americans that have accepted that call again to defend this great nation of ours. And, again, it is the holiday season for our soldiers too. This is a time to reflect and remember so many that are so young, so far away from home doing what they do as American Troops. As they begin to assemble their homemade trees, ornaments, and decorations that will remind them of home and of Christmas's passed, let's be sure to remember them.
I received an email from a biker friend of mine that is a combat nurse with the 325 Combat Support Hospital (CSH). She said the nurses there made and decorated parade floats using the carts with the tiny wheels that are used to carry the wounded soldiers' medicines on. They had their own Thanksgiving Day Parade in ICU, in a city called Bagdad. She said their Christmas theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas. See what I mean about American Ingenuity! Amazing isn't it?
I have had people ask me, what can I do or how do I get involved? Where do I go to offer my help or to send a thank you or a care package? At Cycle Connections, we have compiled the following web site links for you to visit and offer your help; a place to offer a care package to a service member that may never get a package from home, a card, letter or e-mail from someone back in the states that says Thank you! So, please join Cycle Connections again this year and let's help make this Christmas one to remember for our troops! Let's not forget them.
America Supports You: www.americasupportsyou.mil
Network for Good: www.networkforgood.org/topics/international/iraq/troops.aspx
Patriot Guard Riders: www.patriotguard.com
Soldiers' Angels: www.soldiersangels.org/wounded_soldier_project.php
Stars and Stripes: www.estripes.com/webpages.asp?id=53
Treats for Troops: www.treatsfortroops.com
Wounded Soldiers Help: www.operationundergarment.com
Welcome home and a Merry Christmas to my past and present warrior brothers and sisters.
For Combat Vets: www.combatvet.org
In Country Vets: www.icvmc.org
Warrior Brotherhood: www.warriorbrotherhood.com
By Phil Peeler