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“I may not be where I want to be, but I'm thankful for not being where I used to be.”
– Habeeb Akanea  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 11 November 2020  

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  A time to be thankful
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   This month, we have an opportunity to be thankful on several levels. We recognize Veteran’s Day on the 11th, Thanksgiving on the 26th, and the fact we have made it this far through 2020.
   
   I’ll focus first on Veteran’s Day. As Ava says, “It’s so close to Thanksgiving, it often gets overlooked and just treated as another day off.”
   
   Upfront, it is important to recognize the spouses and family of veterans. They, too, have served our country through their own sacrifices by holding down the fort and taking on additional roles and responsibilities while providing support to their military family member.
   
   Military life is not for the faint of heart. You move every two to three years; holidays, birthdays and special life moments are missed; and it also never fails that within days after a military member’s departure on deployment — something breaks or a repair becomes an unexpectedly high price tag.
   
   Thank you, military families, for all you do.
   
   There is an internet meme entitled ‘What Is a Veteran?’ It goes on to state, ”Whether active duty, reserve, discharged, or retired, a Veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life.”
   
   Many veterans have served for a wide variety of reasons. A common thread of why they chose to wear the uniform, though, is the “… call of duty.” This phrase has its origins in World War I Medal of Honor citations.
   
   On the surface, it is defined as, “Something you must do or feel compelled to do; to do something that is morally right; a duty with no chance of reward.”
   
   From Idioms.com, “In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed a law requiring the War Department to set up a commission of distinguished generals and admirals to review all previous medal awards.”
   
   At the same time, the services created a series of lesser medals to honor acts of courage. The Medal of Honor would only be awarded for actions above and beyond the call of duty and in actual combat.
   
   Then, from 1919 onward, an identical sentence: "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty, in action with the enemy”… appears repeatedly.
   
   History lesson aside, it doesn’t matter if anyone who served in the military deployed or fought in combat.
   
   What truly counts, above all else, is they dedicated themselves to serve their country and swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States of America.
   
   Thank you, veterans, for putting your country first above your own life.
   
   On the 26th, we mark Thanksgiving — a day looked upon as hours of food preparation, family together time, 20 minutes of gorging followed by hours of food coma, football and angling for the best sales on Black Friday.
   
   In 1621, the Pilgrims recognized the survival of their colony, with the help of the Wampanoag Indians, by hosting a feast of Thanksgiving.
   
   I believe our society should celebrate survival, too.
   
   This year, we are facing COVID-19, hatred and destruction fueled by political division and countless issues of social upheaval.
   
   Every day we wake up is a reason to be thankful.
   
   Those who have jobs and those who can receive forms of benevolence have reason to be thankful.
   
   Every day we have our family members with us is a reason to be thankful.
   
   Sadly, this week, we said goodbye to my colleague’s wife — a 42-year-old wife/mother — another life taken by COVID.
   
   With no guarantees for tomorrow, be thankful for who and what you have in your life.
  
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