I couldn't help but think of another Thanksgiving Day during another war of our time as we viewed the historic trip of President George Bush to Bagdad to have Thanksgiving dinner with our troops. As we've seen by the news videos it was a real morale booster for our men and women there.
This brought me back in my memories of Thanksgiving 34 years ago when Duane was in Viet Nam. We had been married only three months when he was drafted and after training in NCO school in Georgia, he was off to that war torn country. I had gone home to live with my mom while Duane was overseas, and had a special "gift" for Thanksgiving that year...our hometown paper had a frontpage picture of our troops eating turkey and trimmings in Viet Nam, and guess who the central soldier was in the picture? Duane! That meant alot to a young bride I can assure you, especially since it was an AP picture and the Pacifica newspaper did not know who the soldier was. I believe ir was a wonderful blessing from God.
Only those who have been to war, or are the family members of troops who have laid their lives on the line for the principles of freedom, understand the depth of significance of what our President did in his visit. "Ministering" to the morale of, yes, tough soldiers, is very important...for man is not like an emotionless creature, no matter how resolved he may be to "do the job." As a matter of fact, resolve is as much a function of the emotions as it is the mind and the will.
So, I am grateful for a President who understands this today, as much as I am grateful for the rich history of Presidents who understood this in the past, such as Abraham Lincoln who stood in the ditches, visiting the troops while being shot at. This is part of the greatness of America that I hope we never lose. Supporting our troops is important and means more than sentiment, or even words... but includes action. I hope each of us are finding tangible ways of showing our support for the wonderful, young, men and women who are serving overseas today, far from home...including keeping them in our prayers.
In closing, here are a few highlights from the President's speech to our troops...
" Thank you. I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere. Thank you for inviting me to dinner.
" I want to thank the members of the Governing Council who are here, pleased you are joining us on our nation's great holiday, it's a chance to give thanks to the Almighty for the many blessings we receive.
" Today, Americans are gathering with their loved ones to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. And this year we are especially thankful for the courage and the sacrifice of those who defend us, the men and women of the United States military.
" I bring a message on behalf of America: We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you. Together, you and I have taken an oath to defend our country. You're honoring that oath. The United States military is doing a fantastic job. You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don't have to face them in our own country. You're defeating Saddam's henchmen, so that the people of Iraq can live in peace and freedom.
" You're engaged in a difficult mission. Those who attack our coalition forces and kill innocent Iraqis are testing our will. They hope we will run. We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins.
"Each one of you has answered a great call, participating in an historic moment in world history. You live by a code of honor, of service to your nation, with the safety and the security of your fellow citizens. Our military is full of the finest people on the face of the earth. I'm proud to be your commander in chief. I bring you greetings from America. May God bless you all."
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