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7 things you probably didn't know about Thanksgiving and the military
Editor's Note: A version of this article was first published in 2016.
One hundred and fifty six Thanksgivings. That's how many our country has celebrated since the holiday's national recognition. During that time, our armed forces have fought in numerous wars and conflicts, and many service members have spent Thanksgiving Day deployed in foreign countries or behind enemy lines.
And despite huge nutritional and logistical challenges, the spirit of Thanksgiving has been alive and well in the armed forces for over a century.
Here are seven things you probably didn't know about Thanksgiving and the military:
1. The first nationally recognized Thanksgiving wasn't observed by the military
Blame resources. In October 1863, Abraham Lincoln was the first president to proclaim a national Thanksgiving, with the Civil War in full swing. But the Army's commissary didn't have the necessary food, both in type and quantity, to provide a full Thanksgiving meal for the troops. Awkward.
2. Abraham Lincoln is kind of responsible for Black Friday
Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 stipulated that the American people “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of thanksgiving." This means, as a nation, we're permanently #blessed with Friday following Thanksgiving Day. Leave it to us to pair extra days with more excuses for capitalism.
3. Add Spain to your list of Thanksgiving blessings
The Spanish-American War was the first overseas war fought by the United States. Transporting food was extraordinarily difficult, with many rations spoiling before reaching their destination. But American ingenuity prevailed by 1905, with the establishment of a cooking school at Fort Riley which made future military Thanksgivings possible.
4. Americans were guilt-tripped into rationing
During World War I, rations for “doughboys" were greatly improved. A greater and fresher array of food was made available, even to troops serving on the front lines. Camps provided a hot turkey dinner for their service members.
Despite this, citizens at home were instructed by the government to “Eat less wheat, meat, fats, sugar. Send more to Europe or they will starve."
5. Even Nazis couldn't stop Thanksgiving
World War II presented a hugely intricate logistics challenge in supplying our troops with food. During this time, soldiers subsisted largely on canned goods, dried fruit, and powdered eggs. But for Thanksgiving the supply chain went to extraordinary lengths by transporting over 1.6 tons of turkey to ensure the troops ate a traditional hot dinner.
6. Vietnam incepted the MRE
By the time the Vietnam War rolled around, advances in food preservation and transportation made it possible for the majority of soldiers to eat two hot meals per day. To serve the traditional Thanksgiving meal, soldiers were rotated off the front lines.
The amount of food being prepared necessitated standardized guidelines, which gave birth to the Armed Forces Recipe Service in 1968, which means we get chili mac today.
7. Four branches means four different Thanksgiving meals
The present-day Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps create individual Thanksgiving menus for their forces. But the recipes are standardized by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, aka USSC. USSC food technologists have created over 1,500 standardized recipes, including ones for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (Roast turkey can be found under L-161-00.)
This means that our deployed troops will enjoy a dinner like they would at home, with I-013-00, aka pumpkin pie, included.
The U.S. government failed to effectively account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment allocated to Syrian partners as part of the multinational counter-ISIS fight, according to a new report from the Defense Department inspector general.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has long been seen as an apologist for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, whom she met during a secret trip to Damascus in January 2017.
Most recently, a video was posted on Twitter shows Gabbard evading a question about whether Assad is a war criminal.
Since Gabbard is the only actively serving member of the military who is running for president — she is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard — Task & Purpose sought to clarify whether she believes Assad has used chlorine gas and chemical weapons to kill his own people.
The Army is almost doubling its purchase of new bolt-action Precision Sniper Rifles as its primary anti-personnel sniper system of choice, according to budget documents.
Air Force gunsmiths recently completed delivery of a new M4-style carbine designed to break down small enough to fit under most pilot ejection seats.
NEWPORT -- The Office of Naval Inspector General has cleared former Naval War College president Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley of most of the allegations of misconduct claimed to have occurred after he took command of the 136-year-old school in July 2016, The Providence Journal has learned.
Harley, in one of a series of interviews with the The Journal, called the findings "deeply gratifying." He said many of the most sensational allegations -- "offers of 'free hugs' and games of Twister in his office" -- reflected a misunderstanding of his sense of humor, which he describes as "quirky," but which he says was intended to ease tensions in what can be a stressful environment.
The allegations, reported last year by the Associated Press, prompted a national controversy that led to Harley leaving the college presidency after almost three years in office.