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Commander’s Thanksgiving Message; continue to serve

  • Published
  • By Col. Jeffrey Holland, 75th Air Base Wing commander

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – In the coming weeks, many of us will celebrate Thanksgiving and move into the holiday party season. We’ll have potlucks at work, enjoy large meals with family and friends, and—hopefully—remember the things for which we can be thankful. But having a true feeling of thanksgiving will be harder for some than others, not because they are any less grateful but because their challenges appear greater.

In a time of increasing financial strain and pressures, the burdens many of our Airmen and their families carry are more pronounced. Many, some for the first time in their lives, face food insecurity, and are unsure if they’ll be able to feed their families, much less provide a “traditional” Thanksgiving of excess.

For others, the stress of separation from family and friends becomes more intense during the season of holiday celebrations. That may be especially true now, as travel costs may put travel and visits out of reach. The experiences of these Airmen and their families are real, but they don’t have to be final.

Regardless of whether we are enjoying abundance or experiencing scarcity, we can make a difference in our lives and those around us if we adopt an attitude of gratitude. Being grateful and expressing our gratitude in word or actions are scientifically proven ways to improve our perception of our life and our self-worth, making us more resilient and happier. It’s also proven to be contagious. We can literally lift others’ lives through our attitude of gratitude.

So how can we do that?

The most important action we can take is simple:  be nice to one another. It’s so simple, its value is often overlooked. The value increases as you move from simply smiling and engaging with those around you to displaying empathy and compassion. The more people understand you are grateful to have them in your life, the greater their ability to withstand adversity and aid others becomes.

We can also offer support to those in need. Traditionally, we think of this as giving money or things, like donating through the Combined Federal Campaign ( or texting “DONATE” to 978-487-5678), donating a meal to Operation Warm Heart when checking out at the commissary, or donating to a food pantry. But we can also give of ourselves and donate our time or talents.

We can serve at a shelter or food pantry, offer babysitting to a parent who needs time alone, help a neighbor with yard work or a project, or spend time with someone who feels alone. No matter our circumstance, we all have something we can give.

So, as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it is my hope that you make your thanksgiving meaningful Adopt an “attitude of gratitude” that extends beyond the third Thursday of November and survives contact with the chaos of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Make your gratitude real and make a difference in your life and the lives of the Airmen and families around you.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside you. Never forget that you, individually, are making a difference for the community and nation and we’re better because you chose—and continue to choose—to serve.