Nearly 150 years ago during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving. The Civil War was the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of over 620,000 Soldiers and untold numbers of civilian casualties. Yet, it was during this dark hour that Lincoln called upon all Americans to give thanks and count their blessings. In his Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Lincoln emphasized that the “unequalled magnitude and severity” that the nation found itself in, made it even more important for the nation’s blessings to be “gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people.”
Like the Families during the Civil War, many of our Families will be celebrating Thanksgiving without a loved one, as many continue to serve our country in Afghanistan and Iraq. For some, Thanksgiving may be a painful reminder of loved ones that have been lost. As an Army, we will never be able to fully express our gratitude and thanks for the Families that endure these hardships in defense of our country.
The theme of President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, and the events that soon followed, is that by coming together and remembering our blessings, we can find strength and triumph in the face of adversity. This theme is at the core of what AW2 aims to help accomplish for our country’s most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.
On this Thanksgiving, I am forever thankful for the strength of character and the perseverance our AW2 Soldiers and Veterans show every day to successfully transition back to duty or to civilian status. I am also forever grateful to the Families of our Soldiers and Veterans whose remarkable spirit drives their loved ones to push through and keep fighting. To our Soldiers, Veterans, and Families – thank you for everything you do – you are an inspiration to all of us.
I am also incredibly thankful for our fantastic staff at AW2. Working at AW2 is a tough job and we ask a lot of our staff to ensure that each AW2 Soldier, Veteran, and Family member gets the support they deserve. To our staff members, I thank you and I know you are as grateful as I am to be supporting our country’s most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families for as long as it takes.
Lastly, I am grateful to live and serve in defense of our country.
Hooah and have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving,
COL Jim Rice
Director, U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program