Air Force leaders send holiday message

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The following is a holiday message from Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, and Dr. James. G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force:

"In this season of thanksgiving and reverent celebration, we send our warmest wishes to our entire Air Force team of active, Guard, Reserve, civilian and retired airmen, and to your loved ones and families.

As defenders of America, we salute you for your honor, courage, and commitment -- values worthy of our nation's deepest gratitude and profound respect. For each of you who voluntarily wear the uniform of our nation, this holiday season offers (us) an opportunity to simply say 'thank you.'

"To those separated from loved ones during this special time of year -- whether a result of a deployment or mobilization -- we send our heartfelt appreciation for your sacrifice and willingness to bear the burdens of freedom. Your devoted service underscores all that is great about America. And in an era of grave new challenges to the values of liberty and equality, you represent the strength of this diverse land, and symbolize all that is good about your generation. Wherever you are stationed or deployed, we urge you to reflect on the abundant blessings and privileges we enjoy as Americans. Indeed, we are richly blessed. But with such riches come responsibility; the responsibility to preserve and defend freedom-loving people, and to ready ourselves for the future battles we must fight for our nation.

"In this season of giving and thanks, take a few moments to reflect on the value your gift of service brings to every man, woman, and child in America and around the globe. Your gift is freedom, and all who live under its protective wings benefit from this great offering of peace and hope. Whether you live here in the United States, or are stationed in a foreign land, the shelter and security of the Stars and Stripes goes with you.

"To all members of the world's greatest Air Force, we offer our most sincere thanks for all that you do for America. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and hope for peace in the new year. Happy holidays!"