FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) — Military students from foreign countries, the ambassadors who had supported them and others were treated to a holiday dinner at The Benning Club on Fort Benning Thursday evening. International Military Student Office (IMSO) Chief Kristopher Mitchell was the main speaker.

“I just want to say to all of you, Happy Hanukkah, happy Festivus, happy Kwanzaa and merry Christmas,” he said. “These are just a few of the holidays that we as Americans celebrate in the month of December. We wait until midnight on the last day of December to wish our friends and family a happy New Year’s.”

Mitchell recognized IMSO staff members. He said all of the audience members looked great.

He explained the background of the winter holiday season in the United States with a focus on religion and different calendars.

“Because of my family’s mixed Protestant and Orthodox background, we actually get to celebrate two Christmases and two New Years,” he said. “Our melting pot includes people of different faiths that do not necessarily have religious beliefs or connections to this time of year.”

Mitchell said that regardless of people’s beliefs, many of them “celebrate and enjoy common themes of the holiday season.”

“These holiday common themes can be viewed through religious or secular lenses, depending on the individual,” he said. “… But generally, the season’s themes are focused on gratitude, giving, hope, remembrance and a unified community.”

He said he and IMSO were grateful to be with the international students.

“We are grateful for your contribution to our national security,” he said. “We are pleased that we can somehow contribute to your national security. We are thankful for the friendships that we have made with you and the good times that we are able to share together.”

Later on, Mitchell called ambassadors forward to receive gift bags.

Near the end of the event, guests at each of 12 tables were invited to sing “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Each table was assigned lyrics of what “my true love sent to me” such as “a partridge in a pear tree,” “two turtle doves” or “three French hens,” leading all the way up to “twelve drummers drumming.”

Everyone was invited to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”