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By Ann Curry
NBC News
updated 2/2/2007 10:19:21 AM ET 2007-02-02T15:19:21

It was the flash of his dress whites that first caught my eye when my father suddenly came home from six months of duty. I was in third grade, on the porch of our house, and saw first his pant legs and polished shoes, then gazing up, the slope of his big shoulders, and finally his beautiful eyes, meeting mine as I melted and screamed, "Daddy!" — running into his scooping arms so fast I couldn't feel my legs.

Decades later, that memory still makes me emotional.

It is not easy to be in the military, serving our nation far from home and families, especially now. So tonight, as we light the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, as a symbol of hope, think for a moment of the dedication of these men and women. They serve with modest pay, for love of country and honor, at their own personal risk.

And just in case you wish to give them a little joy during this season, we've listed some options below.

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