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Thanksgiving will be observed on Thursday, November 28, 2019, and military personnel serving around the world will give thanks in many ways.
Thanksgiving Military Traditions
Major holidays such as Thanksgiving often present a challenge for military personnel who can be stationed far from home and their families on the holidays. For many people in the military community, they will celebrate Thanksgiving in a different manner every year, depending on leave status, and current operations.
Traditionally, senior leaders serve dinner to junior personnel on Thanksgiving, when possible. Newly enlisted service-members may be away from home for the first time. Meanwhile, some military spouses and their children will celebrate Thanksgiving stateside, while a loved one is deployed.
A military member’s early years might include a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on base, or an invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a local family. As servicemembers deploy to support military operations around the world, Thanksgiving recognition shifts to dinners overseas on forward operating bases, and sharing the Thanksgiving custom with locals or Soldier’s from other countries. Married military members assigned to OCONUS bases might also celebrate Thanksgiving overseas with their family members. The possibility always exists of being deployed over the Thanksgiving holiday. If they’re lucky, they are home with their family and pay it forward (or backward) by inviting other younger service members who are away from their family into their home.
These are some military Thanksgiving traditions, but to the individual service member, their location and participation may change each year. Members of the military know that the meaning of ‘family’ can take many forms beyond DNA. It can also be tradition to have no tradition.