From Turkey to Pumpkin Pie: How Our Troops Celebrate Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday where families gather around a table, share a meal together, and watch football. But have you ever wondered how our troops celebrate the festivities? Their practices may vary from year to year and place to place; as Military Benefits notes, Thanksgiving can be the “tradition of no traditions.” But here are some ways those in the military might take part.

Thanksgiving at Bagram; via 401st_AFSB

Thanksgiving at Bagram/Via 401st_AFSB

5. Meal Serving

Thanksgivings that take place on military bases have a touching ritual: senior officers often serve junior personnel a special meal. As Col. Bryan Patridge explained, “It validates to them that a commander is in a position to serve and not to be served. Soldiers need to see their leaders face-to-face, enjoy that interaction, and understand that senior leaders are soldiers’ greatest supporters.”

4. Charitable Giving

In 2013, some of the American troops around the globe got an opportunity to pay it forward by participating in charitable causes. For example, those stationed in Massachusetts donated coats, boots, mittens, and more to homeless veterans. Now that’s what we’re talking about when we say “brotherly and sisterly love!”

3. Participating with Locals

Sometimes troops get to share Thanksgiving with the area’s locals. They may be invited into people’s homes, or there may be an organized event. In 2013, for example, soldiers in Kuwait dined with local students in their teens.

401st AFSB Thanksgiving 2012 at Bagram; via 401st_AFSB

401st AFSB Thanksgiving 2012 at Bagram/Via 401st_AFSB

2. Festive Atmosphere

One veteran nostalgically describes the Thanksgiving setup as follows:

The normally dull and drab cafeteria was transformed into a glorious banquet hall, tastefully decorated in fall colors with beautiful displays of fruit, breads, and deserts that were crafted with the careful precision of a high caliber restaurant. I can recollect the inviting smells of deliciousness swirling throughout the air and was actually given the opportunity to mull over my dinner options without someone yelling at me to hurry and make my mind up.

1. A Day with Family

Some who serve our country get the unique privilege to head home and spend the holiday with their families. But those who must remain get to spend some quality time with their military family. They get the opportunity to relax, chat, and develop closer bonds with one another. Some may even play football!


Want to give our troops a fantastic Thanksgiving? Read on to find out how you can help!

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A. Stout is a Whovian, Potterhead, study abroad alumna, and animal lover. A native to West Michigan, she dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world.