Giving Thanks

President George W. Bush talks to troops
from Camp David, Thanksgiving Day,
Thursday, Nov. 22, 2007.
White House photo by Eric Draper.

The President phoned members of the Armed Forces who are stationed overseas to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and thank them for their service to our Nation, saying it was "the least I can do."

The President phoned three US Army soldiers, two Marines, three Air Force airmen, two Coast Guard personnel and two US Navy sailors. The troops called are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and aboard ship, said White House press secretary Dana Perino.

Among those receiving calls from the President:

  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Amy Adams in Iraq, who tracks casualties for six brigades.
  • Army Staff Sgt. William Cannon in Iraq, who supervises howitzer training.
  • Army Sgt. Frank Gervascio in Iraq, in charge of emergency and routine care in his battalion’s aid station.
  • Marine Sgt. Thomas Kelley in Iraq, who ensures that the gear is ready for tactical movement.
  • Navy Seaman William Jamieson II, on the USS Vicksburg deployed to the Arabian Gulf/North Arabia Sea, and responsible for identification of aircraft flying in range of coalition warships.
  • Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cimarron Reeves in Iraq, who does post-blast analysis that is vital to counter Improvised Explosive Devices.
  • Air Force Airman 1st Class Chris Steven Ericksen in Afghanistan, who issues fuel to military aircraft.
  • The President "called to wish the members of the military and their families and the troops that they are serving with a Happy Thanksgiving. He said, 'I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the courage and compassion of our troops.' He thanked them for their service," Perino said.

    He told them how proud he is of them, asked for God’s blessings on the members of the military, and said he was thankful to be Commander-in-Chief of the finest military ever assembled.

    In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "This week our Nation celebrated Thanksgiving. American families and friends gathered together to express gratitude for all that we have been given. We give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. We give thanks for the loved ones who enrich our lives. And we give thanks for the many gifts that come from this prosperous land. Thanksgiving is a time when we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come not from the hand of man, but from Almighty God."

    By Jim Garamone
    American Forces Press Service

    WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2007 – President Bush spoke of the history of Thanksgiving during his weekly radio address yesterday, and called for Americans to remember – and be thankful for – thousands of American service members literally on the front lines of freedom.

    The Thanksgiving holiday is a time of family and friends and when Americans give thanks for their freedoms, Bush said.

    "Throughout our history, Americans have always taken time to give thanks for all those whose sacrifices protect and strengthen our nation," he said. "We continue that tradition today – and we give thanks for a new generation of patriots who are defending our liberty around the world."

    The Thanksgiving tradition has traditionally assumed more importance during a time of war, the president said.

    "We remember Abraham Lincoln, who revived the Thanksgiving tradition in the midst of a terrible civil war," Bush said. Lincoln urged in his 1863 proclamation that Americans remember the fallen, as well as "widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged."

    American fighting forces went on to observe Thanksgiving on the Marne in France during World War I, at the Anzio beachhead in Italy during World War II, north of Pyongyang during the Korean War and in the Ia Drang Valley during Vietnam.

    Today that tradition continues with Americans who serve in places like Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in and around Baghdad, aboard ships in the Persian Gulf and still in Germany, Korea and Japan.

    "We are grateful to all our men and women in uniform who are spending this holiday weekend far from their families," Bush said. "We keep them in our thoughts and prayers. And we especially remember those who have given their lives in our nation's defense.

    The president spoke of the sacrifice of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who died defending his fellow Navy SEALs in June 2005. "Michael was conducting surveillance on a mountain ridge in Afghanistan, when his four-man SEAL team was surrounded by a much larger enemy force," Bush said. "Their only escape was down the side of the mountain. The SEALs launched a valiant counterattack while cascading from cliff to cliff. But as the enemy closed in, Michael recognized that the survival of his men depended on calling back to base for reinforcements.

    "With complete disregard for his own life, Michael Murphy moved into a clearing where he could get a signal. As he made the call, Michael fell under heavy fire. Though severely wounded, he said 'thank you' before signing off, and returned to the fight."

    Murphy’s actions cost him his life and earned him the Medal of Honor.

    "This weekend, we give thanks for the blessings of young Americans like Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who risk their own lives to keep us safe," Bush said.

    The president called on Americans to remember the heroes among us – service members, police, firefighters, volunteers and others who serve a cause larger than themselves.

    "While we were enjoying our Thanksgiving turkeys, tens of thousands of these men and women were on the job – keeping their fellow citizens safe and bringing hope and compassion to our brothers and sisters in need," he said. "And their sacrifice reminds us that the true strength of our nation is the goodness and decency of our people.

    "Since America's first Thanksgiving, we have changed in many ways. Our population has grown. Our people have prospered. And we have become a great beacon of hope and freedom for millions around the world. Despite these changes, the source of all our blessings remains the same. We are grateful to the Author of Life who blessed our Nation's first days, who strengthened America in times of trial and war, and who watches over us today."

    Secretary Gates' and JCS Chairman Mullen's Thanksgiving messages

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