By: Samantha Lepore
Fortunately, a majority of Americans are able to enjoy Thanksgiving within the comforts of their homes with the people they love, watching football games and eating delicious food. The same cannot be said about the troops currently inIraq. Many troops are returning to the states, but less than 20,000 American troops still remain inIraq.
On November 24th, 2011,U.S. soldiers celebrated theU.S. military’s eighth and final Thanksgiving experience inIraq at the COS Echo. Their celebration included turkey, pumpkin pie, stuffing and nonalcoholic sparkling cider. “All the commanders and the first sergeants and myself have been serving the soldiers all day. All the fixings, turkey, ham, lobster, shrimp. Trying to make it as close to home as possible,” says Lt. Col. Robert Michael Rodriguez. The merriment was interrupted by a loud sound indicating inward fire at the base, and the soldiers ducked to take cover. It was uncertain if anything hit the base or not. This is blamed on the Shiite militias, a major threat to the troop’s safety. Attacks have calmed in the past few months but American commanders are still prepared for more violence againstU.S. forces.
Such violence was portrayed the same day in Basrawhere 19 people were killed and many more left injured when “three bombs went off in an open-air market,” according to The Associated Press interview held Thursday. Threats are strong in the area but the violence has dropped significantly. “They are probably going to shoot at us the last day that we are here”, says Gen. Lloyd Austin. An anonymous 32-year-old soldier in The Associated Press interview spoke of his experience being overseas. He says he had completed four tours inIraq and visited Fallujah for a period of time. He worked to secure the main road throughIraq, which nearly allU.S. soldiers and equipment will be exported toKuwait by the end of 2011. He is eager to be home and he is greatly anticipating the birth of his daughter in February, 2012. “That is my biggest focus, making sure my 24 guys get home alive”, he says prior to helping serve the troops food.
For many families and friends, the end of 2011 means being able to see loved ones and assure their safety. Before 2012, noU.S.forces will remain inIraqand for numerous people this means uniting with a loved one in the military. As a nation, we must support and cheer on our brave soldiers whom allow us to live in with the freedoms we enjoy inAmerica.