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Remember the troops during the holidays

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November 25, 2004

Norman Park - As we feast on turkey and dressing in the comfort of our homes, we shouldn't forget about the men and women who are risking their lives to restore peace in Iraq. Some of those troops have never been away from home for the holidays.

The word "thankful" has a deeper meaning this year. Mary Nixon says, "So many soldiers have been killed, my heart grieves for the parent and the family and I'm so thankful that my son is doing well."

There was a happy homecoming in June, when her son Private First Class Nick Nixon was home for R & R. She sighs, "This is the first time in 21 years that I won't have my son with me at Christmas and I'm sure other families are experience the same thing."

So, Mary and David Nixon sent Christmas to the soldiers. They packed up presents for Nick to hand out to his soldier friends. Mrs. Nixon admits, "We're not blood related, but you don't have to be."

The Nixons like taking care of others. When we arrived, a sailor from Moultrie called from Afghanistan. Mr. Nixon talks on the phone, "Yeah, turkey in a can. It will probably be good to have some though."

Petty Officer Mark Griffin is attached with a Marine Unit. He grew up with the Nixon family. Mrs. Nixon smiles and says, "I can't wait for him to come home too, he's family."

Mark will be home before Nick, probably by Christmas. Mr. Nixon explains, "He's in the process of coming home, been over there for a year and this is his second tour."

This Thanksgiving the Nixons and other families will go on with their holiday plans, but will continue feeling the void in their hearts. Mrs. Nixon adds, "Just keep them in your hearts because while we are eating turkey and enjoying each others company our soldiers are out there paying the price for us to be sitting around enjoying this freedom, the precious freedom that we have."

Nick should be free from Iraq in January, his one year deployment anniversary.

He was supposed to get out of the military in April, but the military extended his duty till September.

posted at 3:40PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com