The other thing that makes Thanksgiving really special is that it's non-denominational. I don't have to hesitate to wish anyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Whether it's the Pakistani-looking man at the Post Office yesterday who helped me ship a package of magazines, hot sauce, and candy to a medic and his guys in Diyala province, the ancient Hispanic handyman who was installing new light bulbs in the ‘EXIT’ sign on my eighth floor corridor, or the cheerful man ringing the bell at a Salvation Army kettle outside the Giant grocery store last night. They smile and return the greeting. It's a unifying wish, a wish to be grateful, a wish for togetherness and joy.
I am especially grateful this year for the progress in Iraq, not only as someone who would like those living in the "cradle of civilization" to have a better shot at a peaceful life, but because I've met so many people who have contributed to the changes in Iraq over the last 4 and half years: my sister's friends who served on Navy ships in the Gulf and Med during the original assaults on Saddam's regime in 2003 (Blythe, Rachel, Kristen, and Becky to whom I sent my first care packages), my adoptees thru Soldiers' Angels (Marines Frank and Ryan, National Guardsmen Ben and Anna, and Army dudes David and Taylor), and my friends and colleagues I've met in DC, military and civilian. And this Thanksgiving, rather then praying for a change for the better, we can express boundless gratitude for the remarkable changes on the streets of Iraq. Michael Yon shared a photo in a recent dispatch that captured this change perfectly for me. He has many photos, but the one that struck deep for me is one with this caption:
Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St. John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.” [Michael Yon]
If I am able to post the photo here I will, but go have a look here at the whole dispatch.
I'm not Muslim or Catholic (though I am Christian), but you don't have to know much history to appreciate the gesture that these Muslims made by attending that Catholic service and asking for that gesture to be photographed and shared with the world.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is amazingly wonderful.
I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
P.S. If you'd like to send a Happy Thanksgiving wish to our troops, check out this program from AmericaSupportYou.org (or see banner at top of page).