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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2008

Blood, Sweat and Thanks

By Col. Steven M. Shepro 316th Wing Commander

As we pause during Thanksgiving to count the blessings taken for granted, or moreover give of those blessings to others, there lies a virtue that has always impressed me with its power: gratitude for loss, sacrifice and blood. For it is in hardship where thankfulness can forge greatness of character and possibility in a human soul, or in a nation. It is a part of America. 

Thanksgiving is rooted in the origins of America, but it was in war that we codified this virtue in our national conscience. The Continental Congress issued the first National Proclamation of Thanksgiving in 1777, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national observance of Thanksgiving Day in the midst of the Civil War, and President Roosevelt signed the Thanksgiving bill into federal law following the attack on Pearl Harbor and our entry into World War II. These were the ugliest of fights, yet faith in their worth and outcome birthed our liberty, our unity and the security of our freedom. During our times of greatest loss, it was thankfulness that assured the honor of those who gave their lives; thankfulness that recognized the families who supported and mourned them, and thankfulness that grasped the liberty that they had fought hard to attain. It is a liberty that the world continues to look toward with hope. 

The lesson is equally poignant in our lives. It is hard to be thankful when we lose, miss, or when things do not go our way at a given moment. Yet history is our witness that these moments are the stepping stones to greater personal heights and victories. The greatest souls and acts have been forged in the greatest hardship. Our best lessons have come in times of greatest cost, our utmost successes amidst our biggest challenges. 

Many have given, many more are giving. Currently, over 300 members of Team Andrews are deployed to fight the Global War on Terror, and every day here our thousands of Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers go the distance to support the Andrews missions and ensure the security of the National Capital Region. While we count our individual blessings on Thanksgiving, let us be grateful to service members, civilian and their families, here at our side and abroad, who continue to sacrifice in a time of war ... a time to fight for and win a better peace ahead. 

With deep gratitude and respect for what you all do, I wish everyone a blessed and safe Thanksgiving!