Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanking Our Troops

Capt. James Key, a chaplain in the U.S. Army at Fort Irwin, Calififornia, has a wonderful commentary at this morning's USA Today:

Last month, a generous couple reminded me that there are still a few people left in our society who haven't forgotten how to say "thank you."

I was sitting in a restaurant enjoying my lunch when the waitress returned to my table to inform me that a couple in another booth, who asked to remain anonymous, told her to put my bill on their credit card. She told me that they saw me in my uniform eating alone and wanted to show their appreciation by paying for my meal. She said, "It's no big deal. It's just their way of thanking you for serving our nation."

While this gesture of kindness might have been no big deal to the waitress, it was certainly a big deal to me. It restored my hope and assured me that no matter how people feel about the war — good, bad or indifferent — they appreciate the sacrifice and selfless service of our young men and women in uniform. And, based on the comments of other soldiers I know, such generosity is a quite common occurrence.

As we prepare to enjoy the days of the holiday season, let us remember that Thanksgiving is more than a four-day weekend off from work, but a time for families and friends to gather for a day of thanks. Unfortunately, sometimes we become overwhelmed by the daily events of life and forget to count our blessings or say "thank you" to those who have been a blessing to us. This is an age-old lesson.

More than 2,000 years ago, according to Luke 17:11-19, Jesus was on the border between Galilee and Samaria and was met by a group of 10 men who suffered from leprosy, a disease that disfigures the skin and at the time made the victim a social outcast.

When the 10 men saw Jesus they stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" Jesus responded, "Go show yourselves to the priest." And as they went they were cleansed. But one of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back praising God. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. Jesus asked, "Were not all 10 cleansed? Where are the other nine?"

Did the other nine not appreciate what Jesus did for them? Or were they so overwhelmed by joy that they simply forgot to say "thank you?"

The Thanksgiving season is a good time to stop to count the blessings, large and small, that fill our lives.

That couple who paid for my meal did more than simply provide my nourishment. They reaffirmed to me that we still live in a society that has not forgotten how to say "thank you" — including to our troops, many of whom will be working this holiday or celebrating it half a world away from their families so that the rest of us can have more reasons to be thankful.
I noted my reasons to be thankful in yesterday's post. We are blessed, and those blessings include the work of our fine military service personnel.