Another Thanksgiving has passed into the memories of our nation….and it is another time when troops are away from their loved ones…..we see glowing tributes by the different media companies to show that their spirits and mental make-up is just ducky and all is well….but is it?
I read an article by Maj. Danny Sjursen that I felt I needed to share with my readers……
Millions of American troops have spent countless holidays away from home, in Iraq, Afghanistan and various smaller wars across the region – it’s worth asking what it’s all for.
The memories can be fond, some of them anyway. Patrolling in the morning with a platoon full of mates – brothers, really – and then returning to base to share decent turkey dinners flown in for our enjoyment. We wore dirty uniforms, gorged ourselves on turkey and sides, and washed it all down with plentiful doses of nonalcoholic beer and energy drinks. Another year, sticking around the chow hall after the holiday meal to watch cricket matches with the vaguely Pakistani contractors who prepared and served our food, desperately trying to learn the rules of the odd sport.
For all the hardships of three holidays spent in Iraq and Afghanistan (2006, 2007, and 2011), the army never failed to get us a Thanksgiving Dinner of sorts. There was a certain sadness, of course, about being away from family and friends – but it was surprisingly easy to face the day and manage a smile in front of the troops. Our humor was dark – dark as hell – but, in times since, I’ve rarely laughed so hard. In a way, Thanksgivings at war weren’t all that bad.
Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point.