By Ray Starmann
It seems that Americans have always been deployed to dangerous frontiers during the holidays as they’ve battled the enemies of freedom and justice.
In December 1776, the entire American patriot cause was in danger of collapsing. Reeling from yet another loss to the British Army, General George Washington and his men retreated from New York to the frozen hills of eastern Pennsylvania. Desperate times called for desperate action. Instead of bivouacking for the winter, as was the custom at the time, Washington developed a daring plan to hit the enemy.
On Christmas night, he led 2,400 starving and ill-clothed Continental Army troopers across the ice-choked Delaware River. The next morning, Washington attacked, surprising 1,500 Hessians who were recovering from a night of merriment and Gluehwein. The Battle of Trenton was an overwhelming victory and perhaps the greatest Christmas present of all for the young nation.
Almost 170 years later, in December 1944, descendants of those Continental Army soldiers would fight the ancestors of the Hessians in the snow-draped, undulating hills of the Ardennes. Under the cover of thick fog, Hitler launched his last great offensive, deceptively code-named “Wacht am Rhein.” (Watch on the Rhine) Attacking with over twenty divisions, the German forces surprised the U.S. Army in what would soon be dubbed “The Battle of the Bulge.”
Straight-leg units like the Bloody Bucket, the 28th Infantry Division and the veteran 2nd Infantry Division held off Wehrmacht and SS divisions for several days, screwing up the Germans’ timetable. Ike ordered the 101st Airborne Division to establish a perimeter around the vital crossroads town of Bastogne, Belgium. Battling onslaught after onslaught of German panzers and mechanized infantry, the boys of the 101st soon found themselves encircled. In the words of one unknown GI, “They’ve got us surrounded, the poor bastards.”
Sitting in frozen foxholes, enduring subzero temperatures and deadly artillery barrages, the soldiers of the 101st hummed the bars of “I’ll be home for Christmas.” Running low on food, ammo and medical supplies, the Americans refused to surrender. On Christmas Eve, Brigadier General McAuliffe, the acting commanding general of the 101st (Maxwell Taylor was in Washington), delivered this Christmas message to his brave troopers.
“What’s Merry about all this, you ask? We’re fighting – it’s cold – we aren’t home. All true, but what has the proud Eagle Division accomplished with its worthy comrades of the 10th Armored Division, the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion and all the rest? Just this: We have stopped cold everything that has been thrown at us from the North, South, East and West. We have identifications from four German Panzer Divisions, two German Infantry Divisions and one German Parachute Division. We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms and are truly making for ourselves a Merry Christmas.”
The day after Christmas, the 101st was met by lead elements of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. In one of the greatest feats of war, Patton pulled his Third Army out of a major battle in the Saar and marched them 150 miles through enemy territory without food, rest or water. While watching his Third Army soldiers trudge through snow on the way to Bastogne, Patton exclaimed, “God****it, I’m proud of these men!”
Now, on Christmas Eve 2016, we may ask ourselves the same question. “What’s Merry about all this, you ask?”
President-Elect Trump will soon take office in just 28 days. Upon taking the oath of office, Mr. Trump will get to work, repairing eight years of damage done by the Obama administration and cultural Marxists at home and across the globe.
Certainly on his agenda is the resurrection of the United States military from a brow-beaten, social engineering project into once again the greatest fighting force on God’s green earth.
Across the world, ISIS is on a rampage, aided and abetted by liberal governments and left wing fools who believe that appeasement and turning a cheek will make the monsters disappear.
With the election of Mr. Trump, ISIS’ days are numbered. Their days of murdering and torturing and looting and destruction are DONE.
America and its allies are going to hunt ISIS down in every corner of the world and finish them off. How they go is up to them, whether it’s death by drone, laser guided bomb or courtesy of Mr. Smith, Mr. Wesson or Mr. Bowie; rest assured, their days are numbered under President Trump.
In the autumn of 1776, Thomas Paine, that wisest of philosophers, wrote, “These are times that try men’s souls.” The same can be true of America’s problems, both external and internal today.
To our forces on the front lines and all across the world, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. There is, indeed, much to be merry about.