When I was a kid, my Mom would put out quite a spread for Thanksgiving Dinner. With 7 children and visits from our Grandparents, she had a lot to do. Typically, she’d start about three days out; making the pies, decorations, homemade stuffing, and other food that didn’t have to be cooked until the Big Day.
We had a huge dining room table with a leaf extension. Every square inch of it was taken up by place settings, bowls and dishes full of sweet and mashed potatoes, casseroles, vegetables, cranberry sauce, garnish plates, stuffing, and gravy. The turkeys, which usually weighed between 25-26 pounds each, were ceremoniously placed in the middle.
Growing up, I mostly gave thanks for the great food and Mom’s cooking, but now I give thanks for Mom and the privilege of having her in my life until she passed away in 2003.
During my Army career, I spent most Thanksgivings out of the country away from my family, so it was comforting to go over to the mess hall and enjoy the day with fellow troops. In my units, the First Sergeants and Command Sergeant Majors often stood behind the serving line and dished up the turkey.
I always called home to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
To each of you, I extend Thanksgiving wishes with this advice: Cherish the time you spend with your friends and loved ones on this day. When they are gone, you can fill the day with wonderful memories.
While you’re gathering with your family today and stuffing yourself with turkey and having a beer, don’t forget about the troops overseas and in harm’s way. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Many of us, myself included, have been there and we know what it means to spend the holidays away from family and home.
To my fellow Soldiers still deployed, Happy Thanksgiving. You’re in my thoughts. I’ve been there, too.
For my fellow Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, this day of thanks and remembrance is especially for them.
Duty, Honor, Country