With the troops for Christmas through the years (PHOTOS)

Servicemembers throughout the centuries unable to return home for the holiday have found a way to keep the tradition alive while deployed.

Celebrated in the U.S. as far back as 1539 when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto wintered in Florida, it was made a federal holiday by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. The event has a special place in the hearts of those in uniform missing their family and has been documented extensively over the years.

A Christmas dinner. A scene on the outer picket line by Edwin Forbes, (Photo: Library of Congress)

USS Brooklyn’s crew preparing Christmas dinner, 1890 (Photo: Library of Congress)

Christmas at Buna, Papua- New Guinea, 1942 with Australian and US Army troops (Photo: Australian War Memorial’s collection)

“Christmas tree and Howitzers form the holiday theme of Battery C, 599th Field Artillery Battalion, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas” Dec 1943 (Photo: National Archives)

“Longing for home is Top Sgt. Tom Dameron as he looks at the Christmas tree his Company has put up. Bougainville. December 25th 1943” Note Dameron’s customised holster for his 1911 (Photo National Archives)

1944- U.S. infantrymen open Christmas mail from home in the Hurtgen Forest, near Zweifall, Germany (Photo: U.S. Center for Military History)

Note the M1903A3s on the wall

“S/Sgt. John F. O’Brien of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while in a foxhole, decorates a Christmas tree with C ration can and tinsel dropped from U.S. planes, in the Monschau area, Germany. Tinfoil is dropped by American planes to interrupt the enemy radar system.” Photographer: Spangle. Date: December 23rd, 1944 (Photo: National Archives)

Christmas card made by 82nd Airborne Paratrooper 1944 (Photo: 82nd ABN Museum)

Christmas card made by 82nd Airborne Paratrooper 1944 (Photo: 82nd ABN Museum)

Christmas card made by 82nd Airborne Paratrooper 1944 (Photo: 82nd ABN Museum)

Christmas in Vietnam

Vietnam 25 Dec 1970: Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 167 UH-1 in flight over Marble Mountain on Christmas Day (Photo: Marine Corps History Division)

USS Perry (DE-1034) Christmas lighting aboard ship while at Key West Naval Station Annex, Key West, Florida. The winner for Destroyer Division 601, 25 December 1961. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Starboard bow view of the battleship USS IOWA (BB 61) decorated with Christmas lights. Lights outline the barrels of its 16-inch guns. Christmas 1985 (Photo: Library of Congress)

Lance Cpl. Tom Bowlin, a member of Marine Utility/Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 (HML/A-169) writes Christmas cards on the mess deck of the amphibious assault ship USS OKINAWA (LPH-3). Christmas 1983 (Photo: Library of Congress)

Two Marines sit behind a wall of sandbags about three feet high. They stand Christmas Day watch atop the roof of the old American School in the former Amercian Embassy compound in Mogadishu, Somalia. PFC Mario Munoz, of Glendora, California, is on the right side of the frame and sits next to an M60 Machine Gun. LCPL Conrad Robinson, of Albany, Georgia, is near the top of the frame and holds a portable two-way radio. This mission is in support of Operation Restore Hope, 1993 (Photo: National Archives)

Capt. David Peyok with the 1-158th Field Artillery Battalion does not let a lack of snow dampen his spirits as he makes a “Sand Angel” in the dirt while celebrating Christmas at Camp Ramadi, Iraq. (Photo: Department of Defense)

A Christmas tree lights up a dorm hallway housing NATO Air Training Command – Afghanistan Airmen Dec 8, 2014 at North Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, Afghanistan (Photo: USAF)

Snow falls on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on Christmas Eve in Bremerton Wash., Dec. 24, 2017 (Photo: U.S. Navy)

U.S. Air Force 1st. Lt. Emery Gumapas, a pilot assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, looks out the flight deck window of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 en route to the island of Nama, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Dec. 10, 2018 (Photo: Department of Defense)

Merry Christmas!

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