I believe there is not a family in South Dakota who has not in some way been touched by the events taking place across the world. With our small, close-knit communities, South Dakotans may not have close family members serving overseas, but it is virtually certain that they know someone who is. A Christmas far from home and in the face of danger is not something anyone would wish for, but for many it is a reality.
I hope that the hardships that come from spending the holidays far from home are somewhat offset by the pride at the progress being made on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last few months. Our troops are working hard to make these places safe, and their efforts are not going unnoticed at home, or abroad.
For those who are spending Christmas in South Dakota, I hope that it is a time of joy, spent in the company of family and friends. The cheer that comes from being close to loved ones is the best part of the holiday season, and I hope that no one takes it for granted.
Christmas is the time when the generosity in the hearts of South Dakotans is most on display. Open your hearts and prayers to those who cannot be home for Christmas, and make the holiday one to remember.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours. May God continue to bless us all, especially those serving our nation overseas.