Friday, December 05, 2008

…if only in their dreams

After my father died twenty-five years ago, I found some journals that he kept while “over seas” during World War II. I read all of them. 

Pantano, Italy: November – December, 1943

I remember coming across an entry in (I think) December of 1943 in which my father mentions this song that was then being played on the Armed Forces Radio broadcasts. Dad was then fighting in Italy, somewhere near Pantano (I think). As I read his entry I remembered what it was like for me as an army officer being away from home at Christmas. I felt sad back then—and I wasn’t in combat.

So I dedicate this post and this song to my dad and all the soldiers who spent Christmas away from home during World War II and to all who will spend this Christmas in Afghanistan and Iraq and wherever. 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas ~ Bing Crosby, 1943

Christmas in Iraq

Peace would bring them home


  1. I know all too well what it's like to be without loved ones at Christmas time. No, it's not the same, and it's very sad. Still hoping my family will be intact when it rolls around this year. My grandson's father has been recalled, for the second time, and he is struggling with Christmas without dad - again. I hope everyone will say extra prayers for our Dads, sons, and husbands in the service this holiday season.

    Love ya,

  2. My Dad gets all melancholy whenever he hears that song, because it reminds him of the first Christmas he spent alone- in the Army, in El Paso, thousands of mile from home.

  3. I wish they could all be home and safe with their loved ones.

  4. This is such a wonderful WONDERFUL feeling throughout the entry!! First off, that is one of my all time favorite songs. Secondly, me being of a military family with bothers, husband and son at one time gone for the holidays, it's so poignant to remember the men and women who fight for the country [any country!]

    Bless you.

  5. Nick,

    A great tribute to the soldiers who have gone before and the ones that are now spending Christmas away from home.

    My Dad and his brothers all served during WWII. They're all gone now, but they all came home, which was a miracle in itself. Four brothers, all fighting and they all made it back. Grandma was definitely blessed.

    Thanks for recognizing soldiers past and present. I enjoyed my visit.


  6. Before I address individual comments, I want to say that this post has affected quite a bit. I’ve played I’ll Be Home for Christmas quite a few times and each time I’ve gotten tears in my eyes.

    Susan: Yes, it is very sad to be away from loved ones especially at Christmas. The military tries to celebrate the holidays with special meals and Santa visits, etc. but it is far, far from being with those who are at home. I agree that we need to say special prayers for those who are away from family this Christmas.

    Thomas: I truly understand your dad’s melancholia. Being away from loved ones can create a sadness that no amount of holiday cheer can overcome. The memories of those times still affect me, especially as I know that there are even now young men and women experiencing those feelings.

    Squirl: You know, I’ve been saying a prayer for so many Christmas: May they be home this year for Christmas. I prayed it through Vietnam, Granada, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Maybe next year the prayer will be answered.

    Hootin' Anni : Being of a military family you certainly know the true meaning of I’ll Be Home for Christmas. I believe that I have been lucky that, in my lifetime, only I of my entire extended family have been over seas at Christmas.

    Mary: You have been blessed in that your father, uncles, and brothers all returned home from wars. I feel the same blessing. Your words remind me of another Christmas story about war that I will share before this Christmas season is over.

  7. Hello Nick this is my first visit to your site via Welshcakes Limoncello. I am enjoying reading it.
    My maternal grandmother lost her youngest son in WW2 just befor Christmas at the age of 20.
    A tragic loss of a much loved son. She talked of him until the day she died.

    You tribute is very touching and so true!

    On to a lighter note, I see you have a most loved cat, he looks like he has a very good life.
    We have a beautiful lady cat called Chloe, she's very much a house cat and sleeps on our bed with us at night.
    She has breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time that we do,(not at the table though)!
    I suspect she has been a human in a previous life.


  8. Yes, peace would bring them home. May it be so.

  9. I so feel for all those who are away from their families at any time but it always seem sadder at Christmas don't you think?

    I pray for peace and their return. x

  10. You have brought me tears and a smile and a lot of hope.

  11. I have never had fond memories of Christmas, since my life was often in danger, though I'm sure it beats having one's life in danger elsewhere....

  12. War is so senseless. Peace would bring them home. May we learn other ways to solve conflict.

  13. I always feel sad during the festivities, thinking of those brave men and women protecting others as well as their own countries. We see them on TV with their messages for their loved ones and I always get tears in my eyes.

    Great post, Nick, albeit a rather sad one.

  14. Trubes: Thanks for dropping by Nick’s Bytes.

    Yes, I have a feline—furball—silly cat—who owns me.

    I have come to suspect that all really superior humans are reincarnated as cats.

    Carol: Yes, peace would—will—bring them home. Unfortunately, in the past peace was negotiated, but these days there is no country with whom to negotiate. That’s damned frustrating for a peacemaker to admit.

    Akelamalu : I agree that Christmas is a time of sadness when loved ones are separated from us. Last Christmas I did not see my youngest son; he has been in some sort of a funk for the past 18 months and is not communicating with anyone. It was a sad Christmas for me.

  15. Andi: I must admit that I also brought tears and smile to myself.

    S E E Quine: May this Christmas bring to experiences on which to build fond memories!

    Border Explorer: I agree. I wonder how long it will take us humans to learn to use our brains to make peace rather than war.

    Puss-in-Boots: Thank you. I feel a odd but possibly improbable hope that the tide may soon turn from making war to making peace.

  16. Hello again Nick:
    Just to let you know that I received your comments on my old Blog site True Blue. My current site is Trubes and is the only one I write on now. Thanks for the comments though...
    Merry Christmas to you and lets hope and pray for a peaceful and Happy New Year.


  17. ((((((Saintly)))))))) hope you can build the bridges with your son....

    Love to all the military that will be away this crimbo.... may a greater force keep them safe...


  18. Trubes: Found ya! Thanks for the directions.

    Marmite Toasty : ((((((((((Toasty)))))))))))!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you: if I can ever find him I know I can build a bridge!

  19. that's a beautiful post, saint nicholas!

  20. To this day, this song makes me cry. (this, and I'll Be Seeing You.

    My heart breaks in two for those who never again came home for Christmas.

  21. Nick,
    Oh my gosh! what a wonderful post! If only in my dreams. I can remember 2 away from home Christmases. First in basic training in the USAF. I was one of the 4 latrine queens. Surprising, we all 4 had decent voices and ended up singing Christmas songs in 4 part harmony. Then the other was Christmas Eve service out on Shemya Island in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
    Merry Christmas,
    The Bach

  22. have you noticed that all the great Christmas songs were written in that era and the next 20 - nothing