Finding Thankfulness

Finding Thankfulness November 22, 2018

It’s terribly easy to fall into a corny and “feel good” story mode during the holiday season, because that’s what we are taught. And over Thanksgiving, especially, we’re taught that it’s incredibly important for us to give thanks for literally everything. Of course, this usually results in uncomfortable moments around the table as people scramble for things to give thanks for that someone else already hasn’t said (Me, I’m always thankful for my health, because as Count Rugen says in The Princess Bride, “If you haven’t got that, you haven’t got anything.”)

So with that all in my mind, I went to go do the other annual Thanksgiving ritual that we have somehow adopted: a four mile run in the cold, aka, a Turkey Trot. Now, while I may be in the Army, I would not say that I’m a person who enjoys running. I’ll be honest: this was all about ego, because with my uncle and cousin running, I – the Army guy – couldn’t very well be like, “No thanks, at that time of day on Thanksgiving, I’m usually lounging in bed and going on a Twitter screed while thinking about another cup of coffee.” Which is how I found myself hopping back and forth in the frigid morning air, wondering if my pride was really worth the negative temperatures this wind chill was bringing.

And that’s when I met a young woman who paused next to me to adjust her prosthetic legs. Her dog wore a little jacket that proclaimed that she was a service dog, and not only a service dog, but a military service dog, with the rank of staff sergeant. Which meant that her owner was a sergeant, and had lost her legs in the line of duty. So of course we started chatting – about Army stuff, the weather, running, etc. Never once did she mention a word of self pity or complain about how things were harder after losing her legs. She did not let that define her. She instead overcame it and continues to live as herself.

So on this Thanksgiving, I could say that I’m thankful for having my legs, for not having to completely re-learn how to walk and run, for not having to carry that with me. And while I am thankful for that, I am profoundly more thankful for people like the sergeant I met. Who don’t give up. Ever. And who motivate and inspire without having to say a word. May we always be thankful for the good people of the world.

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About the Author: Angry Staff Officer is an Army engineer officer who is adrift in a sea of doctrine and staff operations and uses writing as a means to retain his sanity. He writes at The Angry Staff Officer. He also collaborates on a podcast with Adin Dobkin entitled War Stories, which examines key moments in the history of warfare. Support this blog’s Patreon here.

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