I’ve never been one prone to sentiment. Given the choice between a chick flick or a good cigar laden game of poker, my attributes and personal preferences play towards a two dimensional Royal Court. The same holds true for various holidays.
Thanksgiving, however, has taken on a more significant hierarchy in the holiday list over the last couple of years. What distinguishes Thanksgiving from other holidays is the selflessness that it promotes. For me, that wasn’t always the case. It used to be a generic social occurrence that leaned more towards culinary delights than it did poignant purpose. Thanksgiving could always be defined as a precursor to the holiday season. It was the starting line in a race towards the New Year.
Not any more.
The historical side of Thanksgiving creates visions of the Mayflower
sailing south along the New England coast as it finishes an arduous journey beyond the grasp of Old European religious persecution. But, even the historical meeting between indigenous Massachusetts and ilk of Miles Standish is not what occupies my mind these days.
Not even close.
Today my mind is on our soldiers. Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, even the Coast Guard. I think of those intelligence operatives, desk jockeys, and law enforcement officials working through the holiday. I can’t move beyond the families with those empty chairs at their victual laden dining room tables. Some of those chairs never to be filled again. These are the folks that I am most thankful to these days. It is they who occupy my thoughts.
I’m thinking about those men and women in Afghanistan, Iraq, stationed across the world, and at sea mixing up care packages in coffee cans; maybe having the luxury of a hot plate and a skillet to heat up their special fare; possibly scoring a lump of butter from one of the company cooks. I’m pondering their thoughts, their imaginings; their gift to our country and the country of their hosts this Thanksgiving. If ever there was a time to be truly thankful for something or someone, it is the present. These men and women don’t question their role. They just do it. They don’t seek my accolades, just my support. Being thankful for their sacrifices and service provides something to them stronger than the distances that exist between their families and them…appreciation. Appreciation doesn’t cost you anything. However, it pays beyond expectations.
You don’t have to agree with the mission to honor those men and women who deliver the message. It helps, but you don’t have to because the ones you honor in the armed forces have bestowed that privilege upon you.
How could you not be thankful for that?
So, this year, just as last year, I see Thanksgiving in a different light. The holiday is not about me and what I’m thankful for. Instead, Thanksgiving is about what our Country is thankful for. It is about sacrifice, long distances, little signs of home, and selfless duty to assure that next year around this time 25 Million Iraqis and 28 Million Afghanis will have just cause to thank these fine men and women as we do in the act and the accomplishment of their mission(s). We are thankful that there are those who put the security of their country and its Constitutional ideals ahead of their own self interest. Maybe we have become a bit rote in our preface of “Happy” before Thanksgiving. It seems to steal the graciousness and depth of the thought.
Many have given more than could ever be asked. Perhaps they can’t hear me now, but I’ll say it (and mean it) just the same.