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WATCH: Mattis Gives His Final Christmas Message to the Troops

On Monday, the Department of Defense released Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ holiday
message to the service members who are both at home and overseas.

“Since Washington crossed the Delaware at Christmas 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home to defend our experiment and democracy. To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018 on land, at sea, or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe,” Mattis stated.

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The video is Mattis’ final holiday message to the troops as Defense Secretary. President Donald Trump announced on Sunday the retired general’s new departure date will be January 1, 2019. Previously, it was the end of February.

In his letter of resignation, Mattis said he would leave the Department of Defense at the end of February 2019 to give time for a permanent replacement to be chosen and to attend one last NATO meeting in February.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote. “The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February.”

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Correction: The video was recorded the day before Mattis resigned and was released on Friday. A previous version of this story implied the video was recorded after President Trump announced the Defense Secretary's updated departure date of January 1. We regret the error. 

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