Thanksgiving Tale

Homesick.  So homesick.  It’s her first first holiday away from home.  And when I say “away from home” I’m talking about REALLY away….other side of the planet away.

She’s not away by accident.  She enlisted right out of high school and her first duty assignment after basic training sent her overseas.  Her MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is in short supply right now and so there is likely no comfortable stateside duty assignment for her anytime soon.  She’s in the thick of it and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

That’s who she is.

But she’s also 19….almost 20 she would want you to know.  And that means she is really missing home right now.  Every Thanksgiving in her short life has been spent with her mother in Denver.  She loves her Mom who raised her all alone after the divorce.  They are very close and she hasn’t been able to talk to her since mid-September because communications are closely monitored where the Army has taken her and operational security comes first.

Lives are literally at stake.

The commander has said that there will be a Thanksgiving feast served at 1800 hours in the Mess Tent tomorrow.  She knows that “feast” in this place doesn’t mean the same thing as it has meant at Aunt Kay’s home the last few years.  She wonders how Aunt Kay’s last doctor appointment went in October.  Everyone was hopeful that she’d get a clean bill of health when she last talked to Mom.

Enough daydreaming…..she has to report in 30 minutes.  She starts strapping on her gear and hears the rain outside.  It’s going to be another long night…

What she doesn’t know is that Aunt Kay and Mom are doing just fine and celebrating the great news from the doctors.  They can’t wait to tell her and are worried how she  is doing off serving her country in a foreign land under conditions they can only imagine.  It’s hard because no one in their social circle has a family member in the military.  And even though it comes up in conversation once in awhile no one lives with their day to day worry about her safety.  They want that phone to ring with a foreign number coming up on the caller ID.

Sacrifice.  Their lives, all of their lives, are centered around sacrifice for the time being.  They hope that her service will not require the ultimate sacrifice.

This story is fictional.  I know no such woman.  But I have known more than a few men and women like her.

On this Thanksgiving Day I raise a glass to them, their families, and the men and women who are serving at this very moment as I enjoy the freedoms we hold so dear…

…and they so dutifully protect.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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