A letter from a Sergeant deployed with the 101st
about the importance of Thanksgiving
Hi everyone, just wanted to wish you all a HAPPY
THANKSGIVING!!! I also wanted to share part of our
Thanksgiving ceremony with you. This message is titled
Perspective and I think you ll understand why when you get done
reading this e-mail.
Recently, our 1SG asked (with the Chaplains' prompting and
encouraging of course:) was that everyone write down 5 things
that they are thankful for this Thanksgiving, the responses he
got will blow you away. If you do not have a great
Thanksgiving or cannot find something to be thankful, after
reading this e-mail, you might want to take your pulse!!
Before I tell you these responses, let me set the scene a
little, for those that might receive this letter and not know
the who/what/where/when/why of this message. My name is
irrelevant, and my unit name is also unnecessary, but I will
tell you that I am a Sergeant in the US Army stationed with the
101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq. Over the last 30 days
we have been through the grinder; sustaining higher death
rates, injuries and number of attacks than we have seen in any
90 day time period that we have been in Iraq. More than half
of the last 75 people killed in all of Iraq over the last 30
days, were Screaming Eagles!! Our camp has seen rocket
attacks, mortar fires and sustained injuries on convoys, just
like most other camps here in Iraq. About 40% of our unit was
able to go home for R&R leave over the last month and a half,
which meant that the 60% that did not get that opportunity, not
only got cheated out of their chance, but had increased
responsibility on the camp (picking up the slack of those that
did go on leave), while the others were gone. More than 90% of
all of the soldiers over here have not, or will not, spend a
whole years' worth of holidays with their loved ones. For
those of you that do not know this, the most important thing
for a soldier is not his money, nor is it his clothes, car,
shoes, or his rank. it is his TIME!! More than 250,000 active
duty US Army soldiers, (the most I can remember during my 18
years of service) will miss spending the most important times
of the year with their loved ones, in order to give others
(Iraqis' in this case) a chance to live in peace and experience
freedom. That means no Valentines Day, no Easter, no Memorial
Day, no 4th of July celebrations, no Presidents Day weekends,
no Labor Day weekend, no Thanksgiving, and no Christmas, and
definitely not New Years Day celebrations. As a matter of
fact, more than three-fourths of those 250,000 soldiers have
not had a real day off for the last 9 months!! (Having the
day off while your camp is taking incoming mortars or rockets
is not really a day off now, is it??!!).
I did not state all of that to make you feel bad, or even sorry
for us, it was merely for you to understand where some of these
responses are coming from. and you will see why that makes a
difference. Now, without further ado, here are some of those
responses (names withheld, but irrelevant anyway these could be
from any soldier out here):
- I have been on more than 200 convoys in the last
6 months and I am thankful that I still have my arms and
- I have been in the Army for 14 years and I am
thankful that this is only the 4th Thanksgiving and 5th
Christmas that I will spend without my family, because I
know other have spent much more time away from their
- I am thankful that I only sustained hearing
damage during a convoy that was hit by an IED (Improvised
Explosive Device), one of my soldiers lost both of his
- I am thankful that I have a beautiful wife and
kids at home waiting for me when this is all over. I
know several soldiers that have gotten Dear John letters,
and their wives will not be there when they get home.
- I am thankful to wake up in the morning, after
getting 4 solid hours of sleep. Most of the time I can
only sleep for an hour or so before I wake up in a panic!
- I am thankful to be an American. I know that one
day I will leave this place, these people cannot say the
same thing. They live here!
- I am thankful that we serve a mighty God that
gives us strength and courage to face the unknown
- I am thankful that I was able to serve my
country, and I would do it again if given the chance,
because America is worth fighting for. (this soldier lost
an arm during an IED explosion).
- I am thankful that we have the opportunity and
the ability to help these people, most countries can't
even help themselves, let alone another nation.
- I'm thankful for having such great friends,
comrades and soldiers around me, there is nothing in the
world like being a soldier fighting next to someone you
know would give his life in defense of yours, whether you
deserve it or not is not even the point. It's called
- I'm thankful that I have had this time away from
my family. As hard as it has been on us, it reminds us
how good we have it back home.
- I'm proud to wear the uniform of an American
soldier because there are no other soldiers in the world
that do what we do, and I'm thankful not to be fighting a
bunch of motivated, dedicated, highly trained warriors
like us. the death toll would be staggering!
- I'm thankful to walk on the same ground that
Jesus and the disciples once walked, this is the chance
of a lifetime!
- I'm thankful that I was not killed when that
mortar exploded 10 feet away from me, unfortunately my
buddy was (this soldier just transferred in from another
- I'm thankful to be stationed in this camp, where
the leaders care about the soldiers well being and safety
enough to be up at 2 AM, walking around the perimeter and
making sure the guards are awake and alert.
- I'm thankful to be in Mosul and not in Baghdad or
Tikrit, those soldiers really have it bad (those are the
worst areas for attacks in all of Iraq).
- Before I came over here, I didn t realize how
blessed I was to have clothes on my back, food on my
table, a place to sleep and friends and family that love
me. Most people over here will never understand those
- I'm thankful for living in a country that stands
behind it's soldiers, supports them in their efforts and
tells them so, even if they are not so sure of it
themselves. There is nothing worse than the feeling of
coming home to a nation that is thankless for your
- I'm thankful that we are fighting this war under
President Bush and not someone like Clinton of Gore. At
least I know what President Bush stands for and I can
support someone that stands for something, it's difficult
to support a president that you don't respect or even
know what he stands for.
- I'm thankful that we trained so hard and that we
learned so much from our history, to fight this war in a
way that causes the least amount of casualties as
possible. I don't know how many nights I ve spent
thanking God for not being a soldier during some of the
battles of WWI, WWII, Vietnam or even Korea. those
soldiers have given more than we can ever hope to give!
- I'm thankful that even though I have limited use
of my right arm (from a grenade attack), that I still
have a right are to be thankful for!!
- I'm thankful that I am able to sit here, among
comrades, friends and co-workers, share hard times, good
times, sad times, and some laughs, and than eat some
turkey, and drink some juice, because there are many in
this world that face famine, death, war, fear, hard
times, and lack the ability to do anything about it.
Those are just some of the things that your soldiers (America's
Army still with an average age of 19) are saying that they are
thankful for today. What are you thankful for? In my mind, one
of the greatest things that we have to be thankful for, is
being given away by those who have no concept of its true
meaning, or even why it is such an integral part of our
culture. Hundreds of thousands of our countrymen and women
have lost their lives in order to give you what you have today.
If you cannot appreciate what that means, maybe you ought to
spend some time at your local VA hospital and talk to some
veterans so they can explain to you their meaning of FREEDOM!!
May Gods richest blessings be upon you this holiday season, and
when you forget to be thankful for what you have, just remember
that there are more than a 250,000 soldiers who can find a
reason to be thankful in the middle of a combat zone. Why can't
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Last Updated: December 10, 2003
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