Christmas Around the US Military, 2018

It’s always interesting to see how the military, and even the different branches within it, navigate “the holidays” at this time of year.  Some, it seems, sincerely think mentioning the Christian celebration that occurs at this time every year is somehow forbidden.

For the record, however, Secretary of Defense James Mattis didn’t hesitate to send a message to the Armed Forces saying “Merry Christmas.”

The New York National Guard participated in an uncensored Christmas Eve Road March.

Task Force Raider in Poland “spread Christmas cheer” at a local orphanage.

The US Air Force continues to support Operation Christmas Drop over the Micronesian islands in an ongoing annual tradition.

Naval Hospital Bremerton managed to write up an entire article on the “holidays“, including a tree-lighting, without mentioning “Christmas,” as did the Fleet Activities at Yokosuka — which had a “festival of trees” and “holiday carols” — but no Christmas (except for the Grinch).

The Christmas-free Christmas article may be a Navy “tradition,” as another article at NAS Pensacola covered the “Selected Children’s Christmas Party” — but you’d only know that if you read the captions to the accompanying photos.  In the article itself, it was the Selected Children’s Holiday Party.

Misawa Airbase, Japan, for its part, wasn’t afraid to say it had an actual Christmas tree, as was the VA at Columbia, SC.

US military participation in religious holidays isn’t limited to Christmas.  US Army Chaplain (Col) Schmuel Felzenberg, the senior chaplain for the 1st Infantry Division, lit the Menorah at the White House in early December.

Columbus AFB, MS, held what is probably a more traditional event within the military, which is a joint Christmas tree lighting and Menorah lighting.  (While many are comfortable secularizing Christmas, few will do the same to Hanukkah with a “holiday candelabrum.”)