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Collins: Even in war zone, we are thankful

POSTED: December 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Editor’s note: State Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, currently is in Iraq as a U.S. Air Force Reserve chaplain. He began his service there in September. He is reporting weekly on the activities at his location. His e-mail address is

Things are moving along over here and, just like home, people are getting ready for the Christmas and holiday season.

The big difference over here that instead of running to the local Wal-Mart, people are trying to get on computers and search through Web sites for gifts to send home to loved ones. The search may be a little different for many over here, but the desire to give the perfect gift is alive and well.

I will share more on the Christmas season as the next few weeks progress, but as you go through your shopping routine use it as a time to remember those far away doing their best to celebrate this wonderful season.

However, this week is the week in which we give thanks for the blessings and gifts of our lives. I must admit that there have been times over here when I would wonder about what I could be thankful for with many of the things that I have seen and been a part of while I have been deployed.

That thought only lasted a moment however, because, as the old hymn says, "Count your blessings, name them one by one," reminds us that when we start really looking, we can see how blessed we truly are.

As for me, I am thankful for my wife, Lisa, who is an amazing lady who completes my life even 6,000 miles away. I am also thankful for my kids, who send me little letters and e-mails and generally remind me that life is to be lived not survived.

I also have my parents and in-laws who keep things running back home. I am thankful for friends and the many of you, the readers of these articles each week. I hear from many of you by e-mail and each one brightens my day. Keep the e-mails coming; they make the days go by much faster.

I am thankful to Harris Blackwood and the rest of the leadership at The Times who have given me this privilege of sharing my time over here with you each week. My goal is to share the war from a different point of view, and they have been very supportive.

These are things that you would expect me to be thankful for, but let me share a few that I will always be thankful for because of my experience over here.

I am thankful for the sound of roaring jet engines of the many planes that work here. They are truly the sounds of freedom in a land in which freedom is very much in short supply. I am thankful for helicopters and their crews that go out into the country and faithfully transport those who are injured back to a place of safety. I am thankful for hot meals and a good bed.

I am thankful for all the folks over here who, having all the same trials and struggles of separation that I have, get up each day and do the job they were sent here to do. If you ever think our young folks are not ready for the future, I challenge you to get on a plane and come here. I will show you the sons and daughters of America who will make you proud to live in our great country.

To all who read these articles, I say thanks. I wish you and your families the best Thanksgiving ever and please, as you pray and say thanks this Thursday, remember those of us who will not be there with you but will be thankful for our blessings all the same.

Have a great week.


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