Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Thanksgiving came and went and I have a lot to be thankful for this year. First, we didn’t have to go outside the wire so we got to enjoy the “special” meal. Second, Hajji decided to mortar the other side of post that day so I got to wake up on my own and not to the sound of “Alarm! Alarm! Alarm!” followed by the “kaboom” that follows the notice. Finally, I picked off the stinking rat that was sneaking into my hooch and chewing up my boots as a meal. Hey, you take your victories where you can.

Then I got to hear my soldiers talk about all the hunting season activities that they are missing at home. I’m indifferent to it. The only things, outside of survival, that I’ve hunted are alligator and boar. At least you can call that hunting because one wrong move and it’s not going to be a good day for you. Both animals have teeth and the attitude to back those teeth up. Here I hunt rats and mice because the little vermin get into your gear and chew it up. You’d swear they were part of the insurgency because of the equipment they chose to chew on. Other than that, I’ve punched a camel in the head because it tried to bite me and it would have cost me a lot more money if I’d shot it.

The most interesting part of Thanksgiving was, having to explain the concept of it to our cafeteria workers. See, our meal was prepared by Pakistani, Philipino, Kurdish, and Kuwaiti workers that work for the local contractor. Think of it, all those nationalities preparing an American holiday meal for coalition soldiers (from different nations) in Iraq. Yes, there were a lot of questions because there’s no such holiday here.

I was reminded me of my fourth grade class and teacher, Mrs. Wilma Bradley, who took it upon herself to have us read the history behind the events leading to the first Thanksgiving. When my parents moved to Florida, I only had a little knowledge of the English language and even less knowledge of some of the holidays. Thanksgiving wasn’t a big deal for us in Puerto Rico. She had us bring potluck lunch from home and dress as either pilgrims or Indians and go through the whole deal. She took the time to explain the who and why of Thanksgiving and made sure to remind us not to forget those reasons. I shared this information with the cafeteria workers and you could see their minds grasping the concept.

They shared what they were thankful for this year. Things like employment in order to provide for their families, soldiers that look out for their safety, and for all the new things they were learning. It is truly humbling to see the faces of TCNs, third country nationals is what the acronym stands for, light up when they “get it” and start to enjoy the holiday as much as we do. As much as I missed being home for it, I was thankful that I was here so I could take part in helping someone else learn what the “Thanks” in Thanksgiving is all about.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thankful to see your post and that you are ok. Your writing really makes the reader experience the atmosphere and wow, it's gotta be tough!! The prayers are still going out for you. Thanks for giving up a real Thanksgiving, and I hope the rest of your life they will be more traditional. God Bless you and your unit. Judee Dufresne

5:32 PM  
Blogger Beach Girl said...

So enjoyed the post and glad the camel took a thumbing. And I would suspect the rats are part of the insurgency. Glad to hear of the TCNs learning of and smiling about our Thanksgiving. If you don't mind, I'll add you to me blogs list. Ohters would like to read your blog too.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in theatre back in '91/92, we had turkey roll instead of bird. Wondering what you had this year.

5:05 AM  
Blogger Beach Girl said...

I have told so many friends about you thumping the camel, they love the story.

10:34 PM  

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