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Tis the season of food, football and family!

  • Published
  • By Col. David Almand
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
The leaves have fallen and the air is cool and crisp, which marks the harvest season and a time that we traditionally take stock of the things we are thankful for in our lives. It's my favorite time of year not only because our families get together to celebrate and eat great food, but we also enjoy watching and playing football, too.

However, as we enjoy the benefits of living in our great country, it is important that we remember the history that brought us to this point. I'm reminded of that first brutal winter of 1621 when most of the pilgrims remained on board the Mayflower, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Of the 102 passengers, only half of the Mayflower's original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received a visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English.

Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years. After their first successful corn harvest, Gov. William Bradford invited the Native Americans to a three-day festival to celebrate, thus becoming the "first Thanksgiving."

The holiday evolved over the next two centuries and became a national holiday in 1863 when in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a nation Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. Ever since then, it's been a day for unity and giving thanks.

This year is extra special because my boys and I will be attending the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving and my wife, too, though she's rooting for the Redskins. Despite cheering for different teams, we all enjoy this time of year to celebrate family, food and football.

I'm especially thankful to be home with my family and am mindful of many of our servicemembers who are deployed across the globe, away from loved ones. We've all taken turns in this duty and while there are great organizations such as the USO that work to bring a little bit of home to our deployed troops, there's nothing like being home for the holidays.

As we're traveling to our various destinations throughout the holiday season, I make a special plea to travel safely and make the right decisions as we celebrate with our friends and family such as drinking responsibly and never, ever getting behind the wheel to drive after doing so. I ask everyone to stay on guard, watch out for each other, and to stay safe while cooking. Did you know that burns are the No. 1 injury during the holidays? Luckily for me, I steer clear of the kitchen during Thanksgiving--actually my family insists on it.

As we launch the holiday season with Thanksgiving, it's also a time for us to reflect on the material blessings we've been afforded and find opportunities to share with others. We've just completed the Combined Federal Campaign on base where we've had the opportunity to donate to a great number of charitable causes. Years ago the DoD consolidated this fund-raising effort, which ensures a proper vetting process for us and makes it easier for us to sort through the information.

The CFC is a worthwhile effort and the goal was to have 100 percent contact so that you would have the opportunity to give. As the last reports trickle in, I'd like to thank Maj. Paul Strom from Air Mobility Command for being the overall POC for Team Scott, and Maj. Glenn Vallejo, 54th Airlift Squadron, who was our wing POC, and to all the unit reps who've helped make this a success. While the campaign officially ended for Scott AFB Nov. 19, the CFC will continue to take donations through Dec. 15, so if you're still wishing to contribute to a worthwhile cause, please go to the website or call (314) 621-6182 ext 2.

Along with spending time with family and friends, another important gift I'm thankful for is the ability to serve with you and for you each and every day. It's been just a few short months since I took command, and I've thoroughly enjoyed my associations with you and appreciate all that you do to keep us on point. Our support and flying missions play an important role in our nation's defense and in supporting humanitarian relief efforts throughout the world. Thank you for your dedicated service to our country whether here at home or abroad in foreign lands. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.