For service members and Department of Defense civilians in Basra, time away from loved ones did not deter the spirit of gratefulness as they attended the Thanksgiving Day service at Basra Chapel, Nov. 25.

Those who were present listened to the words of the Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas Carver, U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, highest ranking chaplain in the Army, spread the Thanksgiving spirit.

"Thanksgiving should be one of the central and most important holiday observances in our nation," said Carver.

In his sermon, Carver said he felt that the true meaning of Thanksgiving had become obscured by a society of advertisement and sports since the first Thanksgiving almost four centuries ago. He added that he felt that the spirit of Thanksgiving remained true among deployed Soldiers.

"It's plain and simple out here," said Carver. "You don't have all the distracters."

Reflecting on a family tradition, Carver said every Thanksgiving his mother and father would ask him to name one thing he was thankful for and, though he couldn't recall much gratitude he had as a child, he is always reminded by a scripture.

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love and mercy endures forever," Carver recited. "In everything, give thanks."

Spc. Jared Cooper, a native of Defiance, Ohio, and a chaplain's assistant with the 1st Infantry Division said the visit was very special.

"Knowing he left his family this time of the year to visit us" said Cooper, "is just really amazing. It shows he has a heart for the Soldiers and their well-being."

Grateful for his many blessings, Carver said the occasion is a time for him to pause and thank God.

"I enjoy my health, my life and my family," said Carver, "and the opportunity to serve as a chaplain, a Soldier in the military. Thanksgiving gives me the opportunity to give thanks to our creator, the giver of all things."

Cooper, excited to be redeploying home soon, said he is also thankful for the memories of his friends he leaves behind in Basra.

"For me, it is a time to gather around with family," Cooper said, "but also to
spend quality time with close friends. Build and share memories we normally wouldn't have."

After delivering the Thanksgiving service, Chaplain Carver traveled with 1st Inf. Div. Commanding General Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks to six dining facilities across southern Iraq to share Thanksgiving meals with Soldiers.

Marking the fifth year to visit deployed troops and staff for the holidays, Carver feels considerably fortunate to minister to Soldiers, commands and other chaplains.

"If I cannot be with my family," Carver said, "I can't think of any place else I'd rather be than here with my other very important family."

Page last updated Fri November 26th, 2010 at 06:00