By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
This Thanksgiving, I packed up my wife and her cornbread stuffing and made the thirty-minute drive to my brother’s house. This Thanksgiving, I was able to sit and eat a delicious turkey dinner with my family. This Thanksgiving, I heard my nephews and nieces laughing, playing and crying. This Thanksgiving, I visited with my brothers, their wives and my parents. This Thanksgiving, I was able to watch football and drink wine. This Thanksgiving, I was able to sleep in my own bed after the meal was through. This Thanksgiving,- I was home.
As a Navy Veteran, I have seen my share of Thanksgivings away from home. I have waited in line on the mess decks on board the USS Ogden and the USNS Rainier for my tray of galley-made Thanksgiving feast. I spent one Thanksgiving in Guantanamo Bay, working 12 hours on a detention block. Not feeling thankful enough afterward to want to brave the line at the base’s dining facility, I instead opted to try to make a version of my mom’s broccoli casserole in the microwave back at my living quarters. The casserole wasn’t bad, the galley meals weren’t bad either, but they weren’t the same as being home.
This Thanksgiving, I might have hit traffic on my way to my brother’s. I might have had a disagreement with a family member. I might have eaten a piece of dry turkey. But this Thanksgiving, I was thankful that I was sharing the holiday at home with my wife, my parents and my siblings; because I wasn’t always able to do so. And there are still thousands of Americans sacrificing their holidays away from their families, so that we can enjoy ours.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for 317,054 active and 109,671 reservist Navy Sailors, 546,057 active and 1,105,301 Army and National Guard Soldiers, 195,000 active and 40,000 reservist Marines; 332,854 active and 71,400 reservist members of the Air Force; and the 42, 190 active and 7,800 reservist members of the Coast Guard. I am also thankful for the 21 million Veterans and the hordes of other civilian contractors, merchant mariners, and auxiliary forces who contribute to the efforts of our Military. These men and women voluntarily offered themselves to a cause greater than their individual selves. These men and women sacrificed their youth, their well-being, their safety and sometimes their lives to serve under the flag of our nation.