Thanksgiving During War
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. ~Thornton Wilder
I always think it’s strange to have a sit down Thanksgiving indoors. When I was growing up in Southern California, our neighbor had a potluck outside — yes, outside! We’d haul out the lawn chairs or sit on the asphalt as Candy, their black dog, wandered around, collar jingling.
But when I was in Desert Storm, Thanksgiving was another thing entirely. We’d been over there maybe a month and were still at the exposition center in Dhahran. We called the building “the white house,” because it was white, because it was air conditioned, and because the officers took it over. We stayed in tents on the sand and ate meals in a gigantic tent. Meals were catered, and repeated themselves about every three days. Usually chicken, salad, and fingers of cake. The food was pretty good, but tiresome because it was always the same. No fresh fruit because of the heat — everything went bad too fast.
But because we were in Dhahran, we had the opportunity to see President Bush when he came to visit the troops. Each platoon picked a person to go, and I got picked. We had to stand in a long line that ran next to a runway. Air Force One sat on the runway, sharply outlined against the blue sky. It was hard to believe I would be so close to the President of the United States! Granted, President Bush was too far away from me to see much more than an ant-sized version — there were a lot of soldiers out there!
Afterwards, we were treated to a huge Thanksgiving feast — really, all you could eat. They’d done a lot of work getting all the food out to us and serving it to us. A table in the center of the tent had Thanksgiving decorations, and scattered at the base were Mars Bars. I hadn’t seen candy bars in a month, which doesn’t seem long now. But then, time was longer because each day was the same. It felt like ages. So I was pocketing as many as I could manage for later. Then, at last, the meal was over, and we all had to return to reality.
Linda Adams – Solider, Storyteller
Yay! My short story “Six Bullets” is now available from Starcatcher Publishing in the the anthology A Princess, A Boatman, and A Lizard.