One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. Though it was a time of hardship, Thanksgiving was a day for Americans to express gratitude for the many blessings they enjoyed, including the sacrifices of those serving in uniform and their families. Every year since, Americans have come together during this season to reflect and to give thanks.
As this special American holiday draws near, I want to extend my personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community for your work to keep our country strong and secure. Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows Americans to enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving. Your strength, selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American people, and we are very thankful for your commitment to our country.
This time of year is especially difficult for service members who are serving far away from their families and loved ones. To all those deployed overseas: know that Americans will be thinking about you as they gather around the Thanksgiving table, and praying for your safe return. To their families back here at home: Americans will always be indebted to you for sacrificing on their behalf. And to all DoD personnel everywhere and your families: thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.