By SSM Tom Holland
Holidays. A time of celebration for all, back home. Whether family at Christmas, friends at New Years, or comrades at Regimental Shindigs (I’m always glad to see that the morning after Morieul Wood that my mess kit survived another year unscathed). The time to cut loose, put your feet up or gather together. As always things work out just a bit different on this side of the world.
T’is a fact that in the past, we invariably warred with some who celebrated the same holidays, therefore, as in the trenches of WWI, when fighting sometimes stopped for Christmas; there really was a holiday air. Even if you were actually engaged in the business (old fashion slang for fighting. Try to keep up), you were always fairly certain that those on the other side were drifting off with the same thoughts as you.
Yet as we have pushed out further to the other side of the planet (I’m not kidding. Check the globe) we see that holidays become at once of both greater and diminished importance. Diminished as in those whom oppose us really could not give a hoot (yes I was brought up in the 70s) that we, like them, have things to celebrate. Greater as in, the further you are from home the more you need those constant reminders of all that is indeed worth fighting for.
That being said all holidays take on an even greater importance. Birthdays, instead of being symbols of our impending old age now become markers of survival and wisdom. Thanksgiving, instead of being a feast for harvest, becomes a day of praise for those back home. Remembrance Day, always in soldier’s thoughts, more then anything becomes a pledge to carry our torch. Christmas, less commercial here then anywhere (let’s face it… there are no stores), causes us to expand our families as we share it in comradeship instead of at home with loved ones. New Years Day instead of a passing of time becomes a marker from which we advance. Spring Break…….well there’s lot’s of sand but no beach, so we’ll skip that one. These to name a few only (there are more but my tour’s only 6 months) give rhyme and reason to our tours and always allow us to remember where we are from.
Whether in blistering hot leaguers or cold damp cramped bunkers, soldiers always take care to celebrate those special occasions in some way. Although we are separated from you we still celebrate with you. It might just be a moment, it could be a day or it could be weeks leading up to the special moment. But they are never forgotten. Especially the grandest holiday of everyone’s year, Disembarkation Day!
By SSM Tom Holland