By. Rep. Craig Ford
Every Thanksgiving, I like to write an editorial about the things that I am thankful for. I’ve written about how thankful I am for my family, and for public servants like Alabama’s educators. But this year, I want to say how thankful I am for our country’s veterans.
We just celebrated Veterans Day, of course, and we are blessed to live in a part of the country where our nation’s veterans are still revered and respected. Still, I feel that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to say thank you to the men and women who have served our great nation.
Memorial Day is meant to remember those who died in service to this country, while Veterans Day is meant to thank those who served, whether in peace time or during war. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to not only thanks these veterans again, but also to thank their families for the sacrifices they make while their loved ones are serving, and especially while their loved ones are deployed overseas.
As a member of the Alabama National Guard, I have the great privilege of serving with many outstanding men and women who have all committed to take up the call and, if necessary, give their lives for this country. That kind of commitment and service is a rare and special thing, and is only surpassed by the one who gave his life so that we could all be forgiven for our sins.
This nation would not be what it is today without our veterans, past and present. Millions have served, and over a million have given their lives on the alter of freedom over the past two centuries. The thought of that sacrifice is something that still brings tears to my eyes.
The men and women I know that serve don’t do it for the medals or the praise. Many of those who have served in war don’t want to relive the stories of their wartime experiences, and simply want to get back to their lives and spend time with their families.
But every one of them are heroes to me. Any man or woman who is ready to put their life on the line for their country and protect millions of people they will never even meet is a special person, and they deserve to be thanked even though most never ask for that “thank you” or any kind of special recognition.
Alabama has certainly produced its share of decorated heroes, including 33 Medal of Honor recipients. But every soldier, sailor, airman and marine who has served has made an invaluable contribution to this nation’s security and status as the world’s greatest superpower, regardless of how many medals they wear on their uniforms.
As my family and I gather around the dinner table this thanksgiving, I will of course be thankful for the many other blessings I have had in this life: My time in public office, my successful businesses and outstanding staff that make those offices run smoothly, a wife and children who are more than I deserve, and a million other small blessings that all add up to a pretty great life.
But outside of God’s mercy and the health and well-being of my family, I can think of no other blessing that I could be more thankful for than the men and women who serve this country and put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our nation from the forces of tyranny and terrorism.
I wish you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving! And to all the men and women who have served in the military, past and present, and especially to those serving overseas during this holiday season, thank you!
Rep. Craig Ford represents Gadsden and Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives. He served as the House Minority Leader from 2010-2016.