People think it was started by some families of southern Illinois National Guardsmen in 2003. Somehow, pictures of Operation Illinois Flag Overseas began to appear not just from Guard units but also from Illinoisans in regular Army, Marine, and Air Force units stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Samples of the pictures are shown on the Operation Home Front web site.
Pride of one's home state might sound a little anachronistic in 2006, but not really. Christmas is a very good time to let Illinoisans in service know that we remember them and pray for them when they are in harm's way and are grateful for their service year round. Political differences in the U.S. are not a reason to overlook the dedication to duty that our fellow Illinoisans display every day. Most Illinoisans in service celebrate religious holidays such as Christmas and Chunukah. Some might also adopt a custom from various secular heritage and cultural observances that fall in December. But all Illinoisans in service deserve our respect and honor at this time of year. Merry Christmas and thank you.