As we wrap up this Thanksgiving, I cannot help but reflect back on Thanksgiving 1983. In 1983, I found myself stationed at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and that Thanksgiving holiday was my first stationed overseas.
There is nothing like an assignment to a station overseas in the shadow of Communist guns to help one realize how wonderful life is in the United States. You also develop an appreciation for every military member who has ever stood watch before and since 1776.
Even overseas, I always felt lucky in that I had plenty of friends and places to go for the holidays. But there were other sailors I regarded as less fortunate. These sailors newly posted to the ship or station had not enough time to make those important connections with new friends in time for a good holiday.
Another group of sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen who end up losing out on the holidays are those who are “pulling duty.” Unfortunately, sometimes watches must be maintained, diligent watch. Especially in some of the areas of the world in which we are engaged.
I have always had special regard for those standing the watch. Each time I saw one of the sailors or marines standing the watch during the holidays, I always wished there was something I could do to make their lives just a little easier during that time.
I have great respect for those working the holidays, overseas, or here in the states, in military service or civil service. They are most definitely answering the call to service for their fellow citizens.
For those serving in hostile duty stations, I know they miss their families and friends. I also know they do their work well and know the importance of what they do. It is work we must do and they are the ones capable. They were also the chosen ones.
These special people charged with the duty of our protection are truly some of the finest of our nation. They really are. I miss working with them.
Now, I am just another vet. But as with other vets, I have “been there, done that.” We vets know what the new, young warriors are doing and must endure.
More so than others – only because we have been through much of the same ourselves.
To those of you now at the tip of the arrow, keep the faith. Job well done.
And thank you.
©2010 J. Clark