Seventy-six years ago in December 1944, during one of the coldest winters in recorded European history, U.S. service men and women hunkered down under greatcoats and tried to make the best of a difficult Christmas far from home. The Germans began a bloody offensive on Dec. 16 in Belgium, culminating in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. In the Pacific theater of war, Marines, sailors, and soldiers celebrated Christmas as best they could while continuing offensive operations against the Japanese in the Philippines and Burma, and in the meantime battling malaria, boredom, and homesickness.
For the majority of men in combat, the most they could hope for on Christmas was a hot meal. Care packages were faithfully delivered to men in the line, and this could provide a temporary respite and bring some holiday cheer. But for the most part, the GIs just wanted to go home after two or three years of overseas service.
This year will be a tough Christmas for many American families, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic, and also for those prevented from seeing their loved ones for the same reason. Just remember, things will get better.