NAPLES, Italy —
Nearly four centuries ago, the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts celebrated their first harvest in the New World - now known as the 'First Thanksgiving.' These pioneers endured countless perils during the arduous crossing of the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, carving out new lives on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. Through the aid of the local Wampanoag people, the Pilgrims could celebrate their first harvest with gratitude.
It was this spirit of gratitude that led our founding father and first President, George Washington, to issue the first proclamation of a Thanksgiving Day on October 3, 1789. During the turmoil of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the national day of Thanksgiving would be held the last Thursday in November to renew our gratitude for America's "fruitful fields," our "national strength and vigor" and all of our "singular deliverances and blessing."
Although centuries have passed since the first Pilgrims arrived, we still have much to be thankful for in our great nation. The ideals of our forefathers - courage, honor and steadfast resolve - helped us build a strong and diverse nation. Brave men and women like you ensure that our country will remain free.
As your commander, I remain grateful for your dedication to our mission. Each and every one of you has an important role in keeping our country – and our region - safe. Your steadfast commitment to service is commendable and reflects well on our great nation.
I also want to take a moment to thank all members of our team – especially the families who provide unwavering support despite the challenges of being so far from home. Whether you're at home or standing watch, on leave or deployed, take care of yourself and your shipmates.
Thank you for all that you do - my wife Cindy and I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!