Secretary of Defense James Mattis abruptly resigned following President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but that didn't stop the Department of Defense from releasing his holiday message to U.S. service members.
The Pentagon's Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) on Dec. 21 published Mattis' brief holiday video message to the Department of Defense personnel — and it contains some kernels of advice for dealing with life after his resignation.
"Since Washington crossed Delaware at Christmas in 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home to defend our experiment in democracy," Mattis said. "To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018, on land, at sea, or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe."
That message, recorded on Dec. 19 — the day before he tendered his resignation — shows no clear indication of the turbulent few days ahead for Mattis. But it's his longer holiday message to U.S. service members, surfaced by The War Zone on Christmas Eve, contains some more inspirational morsels:
R 192339Z DEC 18
FM SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF COMMUNICATIONS WASHINGTON DC
SUBJ/HOLIDAY MESSAGE 2018
ADDRESSEES PASS TO ALL SUBORDINATE COMMANDS
1. WE IN THE U.S. MILITARY ARE PRIVILEGED TO DEFEND AMERICA, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, FOR WE ENSURE OUR FELLOW AMERICANS CELEBRATE THIS SEASON OF HOPE IN PEACE AND SAFETY.
2. WE KNOW OUR FREEDOMS ARE NOT GUARANTEED BY THEMSELVES; THEY NEED DEFENDERS.
3. THIS MONTH, MANY IN OUR MILITARY WILL BE SERVING FAR FROM THEIR LOVED ONES. IT IS DIFFICULT WORK, BUT THIS IS NOTHING NEW: SINCE WASHINGTON CROSSED THE DELAWARE ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1776, AMERICAN TROOPS HAVE MISSED HOLIDAYS TO DEFEND OUR CITIZENS’ EXPERIMENT IN DEMOCRACY.
4. TO THOSE IN THE FIELD OR AT SEA, “KEEPING WATCH BY NIGHT” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, YOU SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT YOU CARRY ON THE PROUD LEGACY OF THOSE WHO STOOD THE WATCH IN DECADES PAST. IN THIS WORLD AWASH IN CHANGE, YOU HOLD THE LINE.
5. STORM CLOUDS LOOM, YET BECAUSE OF YOU YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS LIVE SAFE AT HOME. MOST DON’T KNOW YOUR NAMES BUT ALL ARE CONFIDENT THEIR FREEDOMS AND THEIR FAMILIES WILL BE KEPT SAFE.
6. FAR FROM HOME, YOU HAVE EARNED THE GRATITUDE AND RESPECT OF YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND IT REMAINS MY GREAT PRIVILEGE TO SERVE ALONGSIDE YOU.
7. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MAY GOD HOLD YOU SAFE.
RELEASED BY: CAPT HALLOCK MOHLER JR., DOD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
This part, in particular, stands out: "To those in the field or at sea, 'keeping watch by night' this holiday season, you should recognize that you carry on the proud legacy of those who stood the watch in decades past. In this world awash in change, you hold the line. Storm clouds loom, yet because of you, your fellow citizens live safe at home."
Sound advice from the so-called "Warrior Monk," we think. We wonder if it was penned with his imminent departure in mind.