Warriors’ Watch Riders, I have nothing to give you, and yet I wish everything for you. It’s the eve of Christmas day. My family has gone home, generations both before and after mine having gathered here for a time. I’m alone for the moment with a cup of coffee and a computer. The coffee is my connection to a quiet and normal life of security and calm, the computer is my connection to you, my friends, and the Vision that we share.

Imagine. ONE THOUSAND friends. One thousand Warriors’ Watch Riders. Amazing.

This may sound silly, but as a Christmas Movie treat today, we watched First Blood on the DVD. (I justify it because there are Christmas decorations around the town that Rambo single-handedly destroys in the movie.) As many times as I have seen that, as kitschy as it is, as poor as the acting is, I still get emotional every time it gets to the scene where Rambo breaks down and cries over how horrible war was, and how after all that horror he came home to scorn and hatred in the airports of his own nation. “Who are they to spit on me?” he asks. Who indeed, but that is how it was.

You, the Warriors’ Watch Riders, are changing that – one warrior at a time. We know how it was then, whether through hearing the history of that shameful period of American life or from having lived through it. We know, and we know how it feels to be far from home, serving one’s nation, whether in a “safe” zone or not. We know how they long for home, we know how the miss their loved ones, we know what countdown calendars are like, what it’s like to be “short.” We know how the families suffer, how they share the fear, and how they struggle with a parent serving overseas.

Of course, there are many charities in this country and many good people with open hearts and open wallets. There are many who give because there are many in need. But the amazing thing about the subjects of our attention is their own selflessness – the nobility of the American Warrior. That they suffer the things that they suffer, they risk the things that they risk, willingly, out of a sense of duty to us. This is what sets them apart, this is what makes them heroic.

As Americans, we are the world’s lottery winners. The poorest of us lives better than about 90 percent of the world’s population. But with great wealth comes great responsibility. Our wealthy and secure lifestyles are protected by those serving us far away at risk of their own young lives. If ANYONE in this country deserves to be treated like a hero, it is these, the soldiers who fear and risk and bleed and die for us and for the American ideal of individual liberty.

When each of us made the decision to become a Warriors’ Watch Rider, we made it our duty to carry out the Mission of the WWR in order to bring about the Vision. The Vision, of course, is a vision of an America whose warriors KNOW that they are supported by their fellow citizens, who don’t have to wonder about that. We envision a nation where every soldier walking through every airport can expect to be cheered and hailed and thanked as a matter of course – an America where our warriors feel pride in what they do because of how they are treated by us.

Every one of us who has been on even one WWR welcome home mission has witnessed this little miracle, the WWR Miracle. The look on the face of a young soldier when a group of “strangers” hail him as a returning hero. The look of gratitude on the faces of that warrior’s family members. The WWR Miracle is addictive, and every one of you knows the truth of that statement.

Warriors’ Watch Riders, you are truly bringing about positive change in this country. Real change, not rhetorical change. Each time you cheer a lonely soldier in an airport, each time you pass on the magic coin to the palm of a legless young man, each flag you wave in a line at the bus terminal, is felt and remembered by the warrior, witnessed by his family, friends and strangers, and word of your deed flies around the globe faster than Santa’s sleigh. Each act of honor that you bestown on a warrior has a ripple effect that changes a life, creates a memory, and becomes the foundation of a story that will be told for generations. In fact, the WWR Miracle may just change history. When the story of this period of American life is written, it must, if our vision comes to pass, tell of the honor with which the returning American Warrior was treated by his fellow men.

An Army general shook my hand and thanked me one day, as we stood in a flag line. I tried to brush it off as unnecessary. The general replied, “You see those soldiers over there?” and he indicated a small honor guard. “As soon as they get home tonight, the emails will start to fly. ‘You should have seen what I saw today!’, they will write. Within a couple of hours all of their buddies over there, soldiers still in harm’s way, will know what happened here today, and how these soldiers were treated. And that will give them heart, and it will give them comfort when they need it the most.”

Warriors’ Watch Riders, what better Christmas Gift have you given to ANYONE this Christmas, than the gift that you give again and again with your work here?

Merry Christmas, Warriors’ Watch Riders. God bless each and every one of you. God bless and reward you one day for your steadfast patriotism and human kindness. God bless our nation’s Warriors and grant them comfort and security. God bless their families, those who suffer and wait. And on this Christmas day, 2008, may God continue to bless this great nation, the greatest and most comassionate nation that history has ever witnessed.

– lutz