Think of the thousands of families that will not be together Thanksgiving because loved ones are far from home in the service of their country. They deserve our thanks and to know of our gratitude before the turkey is ready and the football starts.
If you have a loved one or friend in Afghanistan or some other distant place, of course you are in touch with them. For others, there are many ways to let our service men and women know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice — especially those that have no families.
Sending an instant message of thanks can be done on the Internet via A Million Thanks, a nonprofit organization with its own heartwarming history. It was started in 2004 by Shauna Fleming, a high school freshman in Orange County, California. She remembered that yellow ribbons and Old Glory could be seen flying from houses across America after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But as time passed, so did the ribbons and flags. And Shauna wanted to keep that spirit of patriotism alive.
Shauna decided to collect letters of appreciation for U.S. military around the world. It became a community project with a goal of collecting one million letters for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. A nationwide campaign was launched, and the goal was met within six months. Shauna set new goals, and to date more than 5,324,000 letters have been sent to our troops.
The featured card on www.amillionthanks.org has this message: “You represent the very best this country has to offer, and we are so proud of your service and so grateful for your sacrifice. We cannot thank you enough for everything you do every day to keep our families safe. With thanks,” First Lady Michelle Obama.
There’s one from Robert’s Junior High School Group, Elaine Ritter Buck, Cincinnati, Ohio with this message: “Thank you to all the brave men and women who sacrifice so much for our country. We are proud of you, your selflessness and bravery will never be forgotten. Stand strong, and God Bless!” The card has a picture of the group holding a banner expressing love, prayers and thank you.
Being far away from home on holidays is tough. And even in the middle of a crowd, as the saying, goes someone can be lonely just because he or she is away from home. Even more so does that apply to those service members with no family. For us who are safe and sound and blessed to be with family and friends this time of year, the least we can do is send our thanks and prayers to the men and women in our armed services.
Our Thanksgiving will be the better for it.