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This holiday defines us as Americans

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COMMAND MESSAGE

By The Staff

By LT. GEN. BENJAMIN FREAKLEY

Fort Knox Commander

We celebrate Thanksgiving, an American holiday with traditional customs.

 Familiar Thanksgiving customs include distant members returning home, a time to give thanks for all we enjoy as Americans, a hearty meal of many courses, football games and parades to enjoy on television, and the start of Christmas shopping.

Many of us will pause for a long weekend during which friends and leftovers of the holiday meal will be enjoyed.

Thanksgiving defines us as Americans. We celebrate our agrarian roots because the holiday honors the harvest season.

The robust American way of life has special meaning to our Soldiers and their families. Being part of our Army that has been at war for nine years builds a unique feeling of thanks. Our Army service allows our fellow citizens to enjoy freedom every day, and give thanks for our Soldiers’ and families’ sacrifices on this holiday. This should make us all appreciate our decisions to serve and be proud of our accomplishments as an Army for our nation.

Soldiers know firsthand that our nation has no peer on Earth. We serve around the world and witness life and culture in foreign lands. Soldiers see the persecution, the oppression, the citizens living in fear of violence and without basic services like power and clean water. Thanksgiving gives Soldiers an opportunity to appreciate our American roots.

Holidays are not always easy for the Army. Service calls tens of thousands of us to be away from our spouses, parents, and children during important celebrations at home. Well before Sept. 11, 2001, many a Soldier’s Thanksgiving meal was in a dining facility far from home. The holidays we spend surrounded by friends, safely at the dinner table, are that much more precious.

This is the first Thanksgiving that many of us will celebrate at Fort Knox. After deployments and assignments away from the U.S., it is a genuine pleasure to enjoy a special meal in the free country we love, and in the great state of Kentucky.

Not long after this holiday season, the men and women of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, will depart for duty in Operation Enduring Freedom. Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving will be a joy for them and their families. We want warm memories of this year to be a solace to the Duke Brigade Soldiers next Thanksgiving when they are on point in Afghanistan.

Some of you may have known that this distinctly American holiday was officially recognized during the Civil War, America’s most costly war. An Oct. 3, 1863, proclamation from President Abraham Lincoln reads in part, “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

The sacrifices of our Army will always be necessary for the success of the United States and its citizens. Whether our efforts are at war or during peace, our readiness and vigilance are steadfast and earn the thanks of all Americans. All Soldiers; those currently serving, veterans, and those who gave the last full measure of devotion, have our thanks and respect.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Strength Starts Here!

 Army Strong!