Home for Christmas, if only in their dreams

For American soldiers stationed overseas, a holiday spent half a world away from home strikes a very different chord. Snowflakes falling on evergreens make way for tents blasted by sandstorms. Quiet evenings spent with family by the fire trade places with nighttime missions in the midst of another kind of fire. There's less holiday shopping to be done in Iraq, where soldiers can't simply drive down the street to local stores or Target. There, they may be targets themselves, and though back home frazzled holiday shoppers sometimes seem like enemy combatants, the reality of wartime obviously begs no comparison.

For men and women in such an environment, human survival instinct invariably takes over, lending acute awareness and extra adrenaline in the face of extreme stress. Yet our instincts demand ritual and tradition, too, and the holiday season is far from forgotten for those stationed overseas. Although their situation is far from normal, there is still a desire to celebrate familiar traditions in a place so far from home. But an utter lack of normalcy is nothing new for servicemen and women serving abroad this season. For many, celebrating the holiday season in their own way is still quite possible with a few adjustments.

Lillie Suburban Newspapers would like to thank the Minnesota servicemen and women stationed overseas this holiday season, for their service and sacrifice. Here are a few of their stories.

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