We're thankful for them, they're thankful for us

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As the busy holiday season approaches, I wanted to take a moment to extend my best wishes to all of you your families.

Thanksgiving, of course, has its roots in annual feasts held after the season's first harvest. The popular "first Thanksgiving" of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans was just such a feast; harvest festivals were already important parts of both cultures, and it was in that celebration that they found common ground. The first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was two years later, when the Pilgrims' prayers to end a long drought were answered.

It probably sounds a little cliche, but remember to take the time to call to mind the things for which you are thankful. Whether it be friends, family, good health, good weather, happiness, or just a day away from the office, use this holiday as an opportunity to really reflect on what's important to you and to be consciously grateful for it.

As members of the military or family members of the military, Thanksgiving might be a little different for us. Loved ones might be half a world away, eating Thanksgiving dinner in a mess tent or in the field. Instead of being thankful for being surrounded by friends and family, we might just be thankful that we have friends and family willing and able to fight for freedom around the world.

Although you may not have thought about it, many American families will express their thanks for you. They will give thanks for their freedom, for their rights, for the American way of life, and for the men and women who bravely step forward to defend them and to stand up for those principles. It's humbling to think how many great people serve this nation - I thank you and so do millions worldwide.

In closing, please have a great start to the holiday - enjoy your time together and always watch out for each other. Happy Thanksgiving!