Holiday a mix of emotions for troops, families
The U.S. military spends a lot of time finding ways to bring deployed soldiers slices of their lives from home. And this week, those slices will have the distinct taste of pumpkin pie. Throughout Truckee and across the nation, families will be carving birds and saying prayers for members of the armed forces who are spending the holiday season in far away places. It can be a tough bite to swallow, but for many men and women in the armed forces the holiday can be enjoyable nonetheless.”The army really tries to do the most they can to make it comfortable,” said Truckee local Jerry Jacobs, who served in both Desert Storm and the current war in Iraq. On Thanksgiving Day in 2003, Jacobs returned from a mission to find a full spread of turkey, ham, and all the fixings waiting for him and his comrades.”For just a minute, a slice of pumpkin pie can make you forget where you are,” he said. “You get together with the people you serve with, and that’s your Thanksgiving family.”You thank God that everyone is OK, and for that short amount of time, everything is right.”It is perhaps that make-shift military family that makes the holiday away easier to bear. “They make sure that everyone feels as close to home as possible during the holidays, with traditional meals and lots of parties,” said Truckee resident Chris McGraw, who’s 21-year-old daughter, Carla, is currently stationed in Germany. “It changes the way that you celebrate, though. There is a sadness and loneliness because an important part is missing.”That sadness is something that 23-year-old Susan Grant is coming to terms with. Grant is living in the area while her husband of a year and a half, Robert Grant, completes his duty aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Persian Gulf.”[Thanksgiving] is going to be very happy, yet depressing and lonely. It’s like being in a room with a kagillion people, and feeling like you are the only one,” she said. “And don’t even get me started on sappy holiday movies.”Service members who have experienced holidays far from their loved ones said the days pass like any other, but that holidays at home only get better.”This year, we are going to be very thankful for me being home, and thankful for those people that are not,” Jacobs said.And until her own sailor returns, Grant will send turkey soup in a care package, and think of next Thanksgiving when her family will be whole and his turkey will be real.