11/22/2011 12:00 AM 

                  A longstanding American tradition dating back to our nation’s founding, Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to pause and join together in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings.

                  President George Washington declared the first Thanksgiving in America, reflecting on the blessings that had come to our young country. Today our nation faces many challenges, but we must draw strength from the resolve of previous generations who faced their own struggles and remember that the United States has always emerged stronger from its difficult times. 

 On this Thanksgiving Day, I urge you to remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces.   Patriots all, who are willing to give their lives in our defense - they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

                  So when you sit down for your Thanksgiving Day meal, please take a moment to reflect on the selfless and loyal service of hundreds of thousands of  soldiers – service marked with honor, courage and exemplary of our values as an Army and as Americans – and remember to thank them and pray for them.