The winter of 1777-78 found George Washington’s Continental Army encamped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
In the week before Christmas, more than 12,000 poorly-equipped, hungry, and cold American Soldiers huddled against a ruthless winter, enduring numbing cold, their ranks ravaged by disease.
Nearly 2,000 of them would not survive the hardships of Valley Forge.
General Washington wrote that, “unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place … this Army must inevitably … starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.”
Despite these desperate conditions, the men of the Continental Army lifted their own spirits, located much needed supplies, and trained with resolve—acts of great courage and determination.
Six months later, the Continental Army marched out of Valley Forge—and went on win American Independence.
From that day forward, America’s warriors have found themselves on duty during the holiday season. Our freedom and security as a Nation required their sacrifices.
As we and our families gather to celebrate the holidays, we remember the men and women who sacrifice so much for our privileges, comforts, and well-being—standing watch for us on freedom’s far frontiers.
We salute their valor, past and present, and we pray for them and our Veterans, who selflessly gave us the gifts we enjoy this holiday season.
The holidays are also a time to thank our dedicated VA workforce. We’ve had an unprecedented and successful year implementing the MISSION Act to give Veterans more choices in their health care and our Electronic Health Record Modernization initiative to improve delivery of care.
Your work has also enabled us to further reduce Veterans’ homelessness, opioid prescriptions, and build successful partnerships to help us fight Veteran suicide.
Thank you all for these magnificent accomplishments, and best wishes to all for a blessed and joyous Holiday.
May God bless each of you and our wonderful country.
THANK YOU, and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.