10-21-2016-2-08-18-pmOne of my favorite memories from my time in Iraq was when the American people would “take the time and spend the dime” to send care packages to soldiers, especially around the holidays. It was my great pleasure to dispense them, and I will never forget the gratitude of our Joes and Janes when something special had been sent from home, even if it was from a stranger. It seems as though we have been at war for so long that we have forgotten we are at war. Yes, it’s been 15 years, and while we no longer are being subjected to daily casualty reports or hand wringing on the part of those who never did seem to be “in it to win it,” we cannot allow ourselves to forget those who are fighting for us in the Great Sandbox, whether we agree with them still being there or not. While there are a number of wonderful organizations who have never let their commitment to our troops waver, one that I think does an outstanding job is Operation Gratitude. At the time we went to press, Operation Gratitude had sent 1, 616,557 packages to our troops, and have a whole new campaign to hit the 2,000,000 mark. 10-21-2016-2-08-31-pm Here are some of the letters of gratitude received by Operation Gratitude. As one who has only begun to understand the power of gratitude, I can say from experience that there is nothing like being thanked by ones to whom I myself owe an un-payable debt of gratitude. It is marvelous and, yes, even mystical. I am currently deployed over seas and received an unexpected gift made by you. The handmade scarf will definitely come in handy as we roll into the cooler temperatures. I am very grateful for the time you took to create this beautiful gift and to ensure we have a piece of home to help get us through the days. Every time I wear the scarf, I will definitely think of you. Humbly honored, V/r, D.N.B. , SMSgt, USAF Operation Gratitude, I really appreciate the care package you all sent as well as everyone else in my division. We are all wearing the scarves and hats. It’s pretty awesome that each one was hand knit and knowing it took people a lot of time and effort to finish. The beanie babies are also a big hit here. Some people have them on their shoulder while walking around, haha. I haven’t been in the service very long but I feel very proud to be here and serving for our country. Each letter gave me a smile. I wonder why we didn’t do things like this when I was younger as well. Thank you to everyone once again. ITSN J. And here is one that nailed it: Hello Operation Gratitude, From all of us here in **** , we would like to sincerely thank you for the generous care packages! It was a great boost to our morale, and everyone is enjoying the snacks and comforts you’ve given us. It is always great to know there’s folks thinking of us. Thank you again, and we hope to pay it forward in the future as well. Sincerely, Dave, Christopher, Paul, David, Jerame, Walter, Ryan, Jonathan, Kevin, Michael, Rob and Matthew Are you getting this? These guys who are already paying dearly for our freedom want to “pay it forward!” If you want to get in on the givin’, then go to www.operationgratitude.com, and help them hit the 2,000,000 mark. You need to get a move on, though, because in order for packages to arrive in time, they need to be assembled by the end of this month. You will be forever glad that you did, and so will they. By: Ali Elizabeth Turner 10-21-2016-2-08-46-pm

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