- It's over in Iraq: Babil province, just south of Baghdad, has been turned over to the sovereign government recently. It used to be known as the "Triangle of Death" and saw bloody, brutal sectarian and terrorist fighting. The Iraqi government now controls it, and the turnover ceremony was without fanfare, as were most of the small victories seen throughout that nation in the last year. Michael Yon calls it a wrap too, as he predicted a few months ago, and of all the people on the planet, he's in a position to know. I'm still slated to deploy there, but the powers-that-be are trying to figure out exactly what to do with us in a nation essentially at peace with itself. The last two squadrons deployed there have had detachments farmed out to Afghanistan, and if there's one thing everyone agrees on, it's that we need a big push ASAP before the Taliban reconstitutes. So, I'm thankful that we are, de facto, down to one major war overseas. I'm thankful that I won't be spending my career going to the same place, to do the same thing over and over again, because we never figured out how to do it right the first time. I'm thankful for the incredible sacrifices and work done by my fellow Marines, other servicemembers, ordinary Iraqis, and most of all Gen. David Petraeus, that made this happen. And I'm thankful that, for the first time in years, I can have some cautious confidence that my son won't be fighting the same war I did when he comes of age.
- The price for victory is blessedly small: It's cold comfort, but by any measure, the cost of victory in Iraq is low when considering the huge scope of the endeavor. And it was achieved in large measure before the war even started, by giving our troops good training, providing them with intelligent leaders at all levels of command, and spending money on advanced equipment and weaponry to maintain our edge on the battlefield. Small as it is, the cost will not be forgotten. Anyone who's been in uniform for the last five years knows someone who didn't come back. The older guys in my squadron will always remember one helicopter crew that crashed at night in a sandstorm back in the beginning of the war. I will always remember by old TBS roommate Jared Landaker, shot down by chanting al Qaeda scum as he tried to medevac wounded Marines to safety. They will always be missed; but we should all be thankful that their loss has not been in vain.
- I'm actually here for this Thanksgiving: Last year, I was on deployment. It was a hard seven months; I not only missed Thanksgiving with my family, but Christmas, my anniversary, my son's first birthday (and first steps, and first words...) and many other little occasions that we usually take for granted. Wherever I go on my next tour, things will be missed as well; but at least this year, I'm glad I get to be here for the big ones.
- For seven years, our country has been free of horrors like this: There is true evil in this world, and India, unfortunately not for the first time, has seen its face. 125 people dead, over 300 wounded. And not by a faceless bomb, but by a group of men who picked their targets, looked them in the eyes, and then pulled the trigger again, and again, and again. We should be thankful that, haphazard as our homeland security is, and as porous as our borders, ports, and airports are, we've done enough to keep our citizenry free from the barbarians at the gates.
Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful for the things you have, and the things you're free from.