The blessings of freedom and justice, opportunity and prosperity, so dear to all Americans, were not gained without sacrifice, nor preserved without purpose.

These blessings are at the heart of our American celebration of Thanksgiving, a holiday that acknowledges both our colonial roots and the beneficence of the Almighty.  Vital in that history was the sharing of the harvest by American Indians, enabling the preservation of our early settlers during those first winters in the New World.  Sharing one’s blessings and giving thanks for the bounties of the harvest, long a part of Native American culture, became part of our American Thanksgiving celebration, as well.  This cherished tradition endured and flourished as our Nation grew and prospered.

Of this rich, new land, Thomas Jefferson once proclaimed to fellow Virginian, James Monroe, “My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” [Letter, June 17, 1785]

The principles and values that define us as Americans found their origins in Jefferson’s time and have been sustained since by the vigilance and valor of generation after generation of men and women who, in both peace and war, have safeguarded our way of life.  At the Department of Veterans Affairs, caring for those who, in President Abraham Lincoln’s words, “have borne the battle” remains our noble mission.

President Lincoln further established the last Thursday of November as a national “day of Thanksgiving” for the benevolence and bounty that has been given to the American people.  On this uniquely American holiday, let us remember our good fortune at living in a land of plenty—safe, secure, and free from tyranny and oppression.

Another courageous generation of young Americans serves today as a force for good in some of the most remote and unforgiving places in the world.  Many will observe Thanksgiving and the upcoming Holiday Season without the warmth and companionship of families and friends.  Their missions are difficult and dangerous, and they perform them without hesitation.  In this season of Thanksgiving, let us pray for their well-being and safe return.  As we gather at our own tables on November 28th, let us not only give thanks for the blessings in our own lives, but give thanks for the men and women who now serve, and for those who have served on Thanksgivings past, ensuring for us and future generations of Americans the “precious blessing” of liberty.

“Happy Thanksgiving” to all our Veterans and their families, to the Survivors of the Fallen, and to my VA colleagues across our Department, who serve them so faithfully.  May God continue to bless this great and wonderful country of ours.

Eric K. Shinseki

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Published on Nov. 27, 2013

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  1. James Wood November 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    To all my brothers in arms mya you have happy THANKSGIVING and a Merry CHRISTMAS even you miles a way from home your present is felt at ever Thanksgiving table in the United States of American

  2. Howard Shanker November 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for all that you do for veterans! USMC 3rd Bat..9TH Marines…Vietnam 1969

  3. Jefferson Macalindong November 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    We International Flag, of freedom, free-country, love and peace non-profit organization glad to say Happy, happy Thanks giving to all of you. I know this special day it one important day to all American People because this is special day all people here in USA. It means everybody birthday. This is one part of All american people and part there life they never for get no matter what happen because this day is part of meaning of freedom, Love and peace and part of our futures. God bless everyone.

  4. Doland J Miller PO1 US Navy Retired November 27, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Dear Mr Shenseki,
    I do agree thst it is hard for so many away from home. My youngest of 4 is ststioned in Korea. 2 of my children are veterans and 2 are activr. I am disabled at 80% snd retired. My wife is also retired from the Army National Guard.
    I am still awaiting my retroactive pay but I continue to hear they need to figure it out. why is it that the regulation is 50% and 20 years that it is so hard for the VA to get it done on the day of the rating instead if months to years later? I have heard to many times that it takes time. DFAS ssid CRDP is authorized 16 May 2013. So from 1 April to 1 Nov 2012 $1602 and $1628 from 1Dec 2012 to 1 Apr 2013. It figures out to a total of $19328. Took me 1 minute to figure it out. I could do 60 veterans an hour everyday. Not difficult. Please get it right.
    Disgruntled Vet,

    Doland J Miller PO1 US Navy Retired

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