It’s the holiday season again and some of you will be onboard standing the watch away from family and friends. I know it's a bummer. But I’d to reflect on the many things we should all be thankful for this Thanksgiving and everyday.
Be thankful you are an American. Every day I read reports of desperate people packed into leaky boats and on rafts risking life and limb to get to the U.S. Nobody is trying to escape from the U.S. on floating tire tubes. Think about the freedom and independence you have as a U.S. citizen that much of the rest of the world would love to have. Trust me, in my 30 years in the Navy taking ships and crews to bad neighborhoods around the world, I saw the desperation of people who did not have the privilege to be U.S. citizens.
Be thankful for your health. If you passed the Coast Guard licensing physical you must be pretty healthy. We can always improve our health. A big shout out to those who eat healthy in the galley and don’t just survive on a strict diet of candy bars and soda. Also to those who discipline themselves to get all the sleep they can and not stay awake all night watching "Terminator" for the 37th time or blabbing on the phone until the battery dies. Good job non-smokers. I salute those who have had the guts to quit and I challenge others to quit smoking over the holidays.
Be very thankful for your family and friends. Yes, you are often away on your hitch, but they still miss you and care about you. They respect what you do to be able to provide for them. They will be there when you need them.
Be thankful that you have a terrific job and chance for a good career in an honorable profession. Not many are lucky enough to have the river or the ocean as their office. It sure beats a cubicle. Think about the pride you feel when handling the boat smartly or making that miracle line-throw that landlubbers think only happens in the movies. You have the privilege of leading a bunch of good folks, considered the salt of the earth by mere mortals. You have camaraderie to break bread around the galley table which sure beats bonding in the car pool on the Beltway. Don’t forget that you make a lot of money in half a year (with equal time) when compared to what most of the country’s other hard working stiffs earn in a whole year. Be grateful you are a U.S. mariner. The world is jealous.
Your shipmate is on watch today so you can be home for Thanksgiving. And your shipmate at home stands ready for their turn to stand the watch for you. There is no greater honor and respect that can be paid.
Don’t forget all of our mariners, sailors, soldiers, airmen and especially the Coast Guardsmen who are on duty this week sacrificing for you and me. Say a prayer for them.
Happy Thanksgiving and sail safe.