Merry Christmas to all of our readers. May your day, and coming year be filled with joy and peace.
The above passed through my newsfeed today from a couple of different sources, none of which I take at face value. They are far too partisan to not put an extra layer of diligence in. So I went direct to the source, well…close to the source anyway. GeneralPatton.com is the Official website of his estate, and handles the licensing of the Patton name and image. It is real as far as I can determine.
It was Christmastime 1944. Patton was trying to relieve the besieged Airborne troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. With weather grounding air-support, Patton turned to prayer in his Christmas message to the 250,000 men of the US 3rd Army. Composed by Chaplain Fr. James O’Neil, the prayer was printed on a card that was distributed to the men.
“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend,” it read. “Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.”
On the opposite side of the card Patton composed a personal message to the men as well, “To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. – G.S. Patton, Jr., Lt. Gen. Commanding, Third United States Army.”
Seems appropriate, and allows me to segue rather neatly into a comment about another larger-than-life General who has a rather touching Christmas Story.
From The US Naval Institute Blog:
A couple of months ago, when I told General Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marine Corps, now the chair of the Naval Academy Board of Visitors, that we were having General Mattis speak this evening, he said, “Let me tell you a Jim Mattis story.” General Krulak said, when he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, every year, starting about a week before Christmas, he and his wife would bake hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Christmas cookies. They would package them in small bundles.
Then on Christmas day, he would load his vehicle. At about 4 a.m., General Krulak would drive himself to every Marine guard post in the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area and deliver a small package of Christmas cookies to whatever Marines were pulling guard duty that day. He said that one year, he had gone down to Quantico as one of his stops to deliver Christmas cookies to the Marines on guard duty. He went to the command center and gave a package to the lance corporal who was on duty.
He asked, “Who’s the officer of the day?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.” And General Krulak said, “No, no, no. I know who General Mattis is. I mean, who’s the officer of the day today, Christmas day?” The lance corporal, feeling a little anxious, said, “Sir, it is Brigadier General Mattis.”
General Krulak said that, about that time, he spotted in the back room a cot, or a daybed. He said, “No, Lance Corporal. Who slept in that bed last night?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it was Brigadier General Mattis.”
About that time, General Krulak said that General Mattis came in, in a duty uniform with a sword, and General Krulak said, “Jim, what are you doing here on Christmas day? Why do you have duty?” General Mattis told him that the young officer who was scheduled to have duty on Christmas day had a family, and General Mattis decided it was better for the young officer to spend Christmas Day with his family, and so he chose to have duty on Christmas Day.
General Krulak said, “That’s the kind of officer that Jim Mattis is.”
The story above was told by Dr. Albert C. Pierce, the Director of the Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at The United States Naval Academy. He was introducing General James Mattis who gave a lecture on Ethical Challenges in Contemporary Conflict in the spring of 2006. This was taken from the transcript of that lecture.
I don’t often lift more than a couple of paragraphs from an outside work, leaving more for a curious reader to click over to. But in this case it made the post feel incomplete. So do me a favor and click over to blog.usni.org/ so they get credit for a link if you are so inclined. There is some cool stuff there if you are a interested in all things naval.
Have a Merry Christmas Folks.