One more thing for which to be thankful

LAUGHLIN AFB, TEXAS -- Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and everywhere I go I'm reminded of the many things I have for which I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for my new wife and the fact that we get to spend this holiday season together while so many others don't.

I'm thankful I have a job I love to go to every morning where I work with a group of people I'm proud to call my friends.

I'm thankful for the freedom to write an article expressing my thoughts and feelings and have it published for you to read. During this time each year, each of us will hear over and over how so many people are thankful for their families, friends and other various treasures in their lives.

As I drove to work one day last week, a radio station was allowing people to call in and say what they were thankful for.

The first caller I heard was a very young girl who was thankful for her mommy and daddy, and the troops fighting overseas.

The next was a man, probably in his mid- to late thirties, who was thankful for his wife and kids, and the troops.

It quickly became evident that while everyone had something for which they were individually thankful, almost every caller expressed thanks for the U.S. military.

That's when I realized there is one more thing I'm thankful for -- a grateful nation. I wasn't even a twinkle in my parents' eyes when the Vietnam War ended, but I've heard the stories from those who saw it firsthand.

I'm not quite sure to what extent the country's disdain for the armed forces went, but from what I gather it was pretty bad. A few weeks ago I was in a town in Maryland right outside an Army post with a group of co-workers, standing among people who see thousands of military folks every day.

We watched a man get out of his car and walk across a parking lot towards us. I guess we figured he was going to grab lunch at the same place we were.

But he approached us and determinedly shook each of our hands, thanking us individually for what we do. Then he turned and went back to his business.

The military has suffered a few black eyes during this war in which we're currently engaged. The foolish actions of a few individuals have captured the attention of the media and have been shoved in the faces of the American public for quite some time now.

But the nation stands by us. They support us, and welcome us home with open arms and smiling faces.

This holiday season, thousands of military members will depart to support the Global War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and thousands will return home from those conflicts.

And whether they're coming or going, they can do so knowing they have the support of the American people.

For that, I'm thankful.