Happy Thanksgiving

Nov. 26, 1863, (FREDERICKSBURG)—Dearest Brother, I suppose you are having a good time this Thanksgiving, eating plum pudding and chicken pie and cider. I hope you are, at any rate, for I want you to enjoy yourself.

I should like to be with you, and I know you would like to have me, but alas this war never seems to end.

Still, although I cannot be with you to enjoy your luxuries, and your company, I have many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful that my life has been spared to me, as many of my friends are dead. I am thankful that I still enjoy good health.

I am thus hopeful that the Union will be successful. I can hear the cannons now, down by the Rapidan River, sounding their reports. I fear we have a bloody day ahead of us. I am afraid.

I should like a few gallons of that cider you told me about in your last letter. I would like some of those pickled pig’s feet, too, if you have time to send them.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love, your brother.

Nov. 28, 1918, (PARIS)—Dearest Wife, I miss you more than you will know on this Thanksgiving Day. But I have good news. Our corps commander received a telegram today. He told us we are coming home.

The war is over, I am scared to believe it. Our commander read that our division would proceed to the embarkation point and begin sail for America soon. I’m coming home, darling. I’m coming to see you and our little one and I shall never let you go.

Thank God for his mercy unto us. This is a happy Thanksgiving indeed.

Nov 23, 1944 (HOLLAND)—Dearest Darling, here it is Thanksgiving and we are not together. These damned holidays are the painfullest part of our separation. I am sad. But I hope we’ll be together next Thanksgiving.

Our men are holed up in a monastery. Today, we gave the priests our food and they fixed our meals. They gave us a real feast, and the student priests served us. They did everything. We didn’t lift a finger.

At 4 p.m., dinner was served in a big beautiful library with a domed ceiling. It looked just as you might guess a monastery should look. They decorated it with American flags, and all the orphans drew crayon drawings of the G.I.s.

The orphans made a lot of us soldiers cry to think of our daughters and sons back home. I hate being away from you, darling.

The monks all sang for us before dinner. They sang the “Star Spangled Banner,” then they sang the Dutch national anthem, too, which has been prohibited for so long.

Everything tasted so delicious. We had white tablecloths and fine china. I wish I could describe how perfect the food was, and all the music, but my words don’t do the occasion justice.

I am grateful that these “men of God,” out of the greatness of their hearts, gave us a memory to carry always.

They took care of your husband, darling. I’m not happy without you, but I was filled with beauty and a keen sense of gratitude. Tell our daughter I love her and pray for her every night.

Nov. 24, 1966 (VIETNAM)—Dear American Serviceman. My fourth-grade class is writing letters to all the Soldiers over there for Thanksgiving.

I hope you are doing good. I hope you liked the things I sent you, I don’t know if you like Hershey’s bars the way I do so I put in some M&Ms and other stuff, too. My brother likes M&Ms and he says they are better than anything.

I am thinking about you, and we are praying for you in Mrs. Reighard’s class every day because her son is in Vietnam like you are and she is worried about him like I am worried about you.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Do you have lots of friends? What color is your hair? Do you have a girlfriend or a wife or something?

I hope you have some food and good things to do that make your holiday really nice. Please write back, my name is Mary. God bless you.

No. 27, 2013 (AFGHANISTAN)— Dear Brad, thank you so much for the boxes of snacks and toiletries for our Soldiers. I made sure your gifts were distributed this Thanksgiving to all the Soldiers here to share in your generosity.

Your gesture will not ever be forgotten. It is not every day that a 12-year-old boy takes it upon himself to send gifts to us Soldiers.

Your gifts have helped us feel closer to home, even though we have never met you, and are so far away from people who love us.

The chaplain said a prayer before our Thanksgiving dinner, and we all took turns saying things we were thankful for, and we all named you among the things we were most thankful for. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face to shine upon you.

Nov. 23, 2022 (BIRMINGHAM)—Dear U.S. servicemen, all over the world. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I am thinking about you on this holiday. I am thinking about the sacrifices you make. I am praying for your families.

I hope you will read this on your holiday and know that you are loved. Not just by one guy. But by an entire nation.

Yes, I know people say “Thank you for your service,” a lot. And maybe sometimes this phrase loses its meaning. But I want to say “thank you.” I want you to know that I actually mean it.

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Anne Arthur - November 24, 2022 6:28 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jamie. May God keep watching over you always.

  2. sjhl7 - November 24, 2022 6:45 am

    Amen and Amen!

  3. Puberty Earle Bosemann - November 24, 2022 6:55 am

    Wonderful column Sean! I really love the sentiments expressed in these letters. These sentiments and ideals are what made our country strong and united. Hopefully, things aren’t so far gone that they can’t be recovered. The anything goes mantra being pushed today will bring us down if people don’t stand up to it. Be strong!
    Happy Thasksgiving Sean!

    Your friend,


  4. Susan Poole - November 24, 2022 8:22 am

    To your message today, I can only my AMEN.💖

  5. Melanie Johnston Levy, LPC - November 24, 2022 8:24 am

    Thank YOU

  6. Debbie - November 24, 2022 9:22 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  7. John candy - November 24, 2022 9:51 am

    Well said

  8. Rhonda - November 24, 2022 10:49 am

    Thank you Sean for this beautiful column! God Bless America and Americans.

  9. Ann - November 24, 2022 10:54 am

    Never forget……❤️

  10. Michael McCaskill - November 24, 2022 11:03 am

    Thank you for this article. As a 21 year Navy retiree, I spent days, months, and even years away from my loved ones during many holidays. I wish every service member serving across this globe could see this article. I’m sure, as OTR did with me, it struck a chord…in a good way, that someone is mindful of the what our men and women sacrifice for others. THANK YOU for thinking of them on this holiday! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  11. Ginga Smithfield - November 24, 2022 11:04 am

    Thank you, Sean! You have become a blessing in my life!! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  12. Leigh Amiot - November 24, 2022 11:10 am


  13. Scott Partee - November 24, 2022 11:33 am

    Thank you Sean for your writing, you touch so many you will never know.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
    Scott in Chipley, Fl.

  14. Sally Bailey - November 24, 2022 11:53 am

    Thank you for your very moving offering today.

  15. Paula - November 24, 2022 12:13 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you

  16. mccutchen52 - November 24, 2022 12:18 pm

    Hope you and Jamie have a great Thanksgiving. I am making a stop over, at my cousins, in your fair city in a few days on my way to see my mom. You don’t say much about your house and how Jamie is decorating for the holidays.

  17. Cheryl W. - November 24, 2022 12:30 pm

    Dear Sean, this article is beautiful in so many ways. It certainly brought overwhelming gratitude from me for the sacrifice from those folks that the letters represented. I wish the world would realize and be grateful for the freedom those sacrifices gave us, instead of using it to instigate the ruination that is happening now.
    Thank you.

  18. Ron M - November 24, 2022 12:40 pm

    This column prompts my reflection on Norman Rockwell’s illustrations of “Our Four Freedoms”. They are sustained at a cost, which I believe in part was his point. Your coulomb drives home that point. May we be grateful that we can, indeed, be grateful.

  19. Sue Rhodus - November 24, 2022 12:51 pm

    This one …⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  20. Susan - November 24, 2022 12:56 pm

    Amen! Thank you all for your service.

  21. Tracy McLaughlin - November 24, 2022 12:57 pm

    Beautiful and what a reminder for all of us. God Bless you Sean, you and your family.

  22. Sylvia Sykes - November 24, 2022 12:58 pm

    Thank you for reminding me to pray for our servicemen and women today!

  23. Norman turnipseed - November 24, 2022 1:02 pm

    I fully agree with Sean.
    All you service people where ever you are are being prayed for and hope that all of you will get to come home soon. I wish that I could tell each and everyone of you that appreciate you and thank you for what you are doing.
    Happy Thanksgiving to each and hope this world would learn to live and respect each other and know that GOD created each one of us the same way.
    Love you all !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Gaylan W Brown - November 24, 2022 1:17 pm

    As I get older, one of the things I must do daily is lubricate my eyes with tears and warm my old heart. Your column helps with both. Thank you. Don’t quit
    Prayers for you and your family.

  25. Priscilla Rodgers - November 24, 2022 1:30 pm

    Amen! We all have something to be thankful for today, please stop and thank the one who loves you the most. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  26. Ruth - November 24, 2022 1:31 pm

    Another amazing perspective you have given us, your writings are a gift Sean.
    Hoping to read some of this to family today.
    God bless you!

  27. Susan Mitchell - November 24, 2022 1:31 pm

    Thanks again Sean for so eloquently putting into words what we’re all feeling. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jamie and those sweet puppies!

  28. Page Leftwich - November 24, 2022 1:32 pm

    Great column for Thanksgiving! Thank you!!

  29. Judy - November 24, 2022 1:33 pm

    Thank you for your service Sean. You probably don’t know how many times you say the very things we are thinking.

  30. Sean of the South: Happy Thanksgiving | The Trussville Tribune - November 24, 2022 1:39 pm

    […] By Sean Dietrich, Sean of the South […]

  31. Sheilla Boyd - November 24, 2022 1:46 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your wonderful writing!

  32. Stephen Sauer - November 24, 2022 1:47 pm

    Thank you Sean and Happy Thanksgiving!

  33. Joy Jacobs - November 24, 2022 1:50 pm

    Words cannot express how much I loved your column today. Thanks for sharing it.

  34. M - November 24, 2022 1:52 pm

    What a beautiful way to honor the men and women that protect our lives and our freedom.

  35. Tim Parker - November 24, 2022 1:54 pm

    Amen and God bless

  36. Susan - November 24, 2022 1:58 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to all! Thinking of all of those who cannot be with their families today🙏♥️

  37. Joe - November 24, 2022 2:00 pm

    God bless and thank you for this awesome post!

  38. Melanie - November 24, 2022 2:01 pm

    Amen. God Bless Our Troops.

  39. Rhonda - November 24, 2022 2:03 pm

    Happy Turkey Day! Someone who loved us much always greeted us with that phrase. She left us a box of letters from one that never came home. But as time passed she learned to feel grateful again and to teach us how to do the same. Happy Turkey Day Lulu. Tell Joel he still has a place of honor at that table every year. And God Bless Sean and Jamie and the 4 legged ones who have had their nose in the air for several days now.

  40. Tommy - November 24, 2022 2:41 pm

    Uh…Sean…you praised the invading army from the north, but not one word about the ragged Southern boys defending our homeland. . . .

  41. Pat Thomason - November 24, 2022 2:45 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your loved ones!

  42. Melissa Brown - November 24, 2022 2:51 pm

    Wishing you and Jamie and the furbabies a very Blessed Thanksgiving ♥️🦃

  43. Suellen - November 24, 2022 2:56 pm

    We came late to the party. Both my grandfather’s were from Germany but they fought for America in WWI. My Dad was in WWII and served time as a POW. Two brothers served during Vietnam War. One in Vietnam and one as a nurse stateside. One nephew who served in Iraq and then came home and ended his life. I have a box full of letters from soldiers and sailors that I supported in Iraq and Afghanistan. Giving thanks that we are currently not involved in any wars and praying it stays that way. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and especially to you, Sean, who brightens our day every day.

  44. Barbara - November 24, 2022 3:10 pm

    Blessings to you on this thanksgiving Day

  45. Joe - November 24, 2022 3:28 pm

    Excellent reminder of many things we have to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  46. Gordon - November 24, 2022 3:46 pm

    Thank you Sean for this touching, heartwarming post today. It was so meaningful and so appropriate. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Jaime.

  47. Sheri K - November 24, 2022 3:49 pm

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful!!! Thank you for reminding us of all the sacrifices made for our freedom! May God bless our service men and women – active, retired, and those who have received their final rest!

  48. Ruth Mitchell - November 24, 2022 3:54 pm

    I sincerely agree with your words to those who serve in the military. I am mindful of the sacrifices they make for our benefits at home. THANK YOU!!

  49. David - November 24, 2022 3:59 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to all and especially our servicemen and women! We really do mean that!!

  50. LIN ARNOLD - November 24, 2022 4:00 pm

    This literally brought me to tears. My Dad was career Army, Bora Bora during WWII, Korea and then Viet Nam. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say he was known by name by at least 2 presidents. When he was deployed to Viet Nam, he was 45 years old. They strapped the radio gear on his back, and he was the “Comm Guy”. Which also meant that he was the prime target for the Viet Cong. But he made it home, all in one piece (except for the lasting effects of Agent Orange). He walked back in our door on Thanksgiving morning 1967. It was indeed a day of God’s blessings. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wife!

  51. Rebecca Soude4rs - November 24, 2022 4:30 pm

    Very fine words for this Thanksgiving Day 2022, Sean Dietrich. I am thankful for your words!

  52. Carol Pilmer - November 24, 2022 4:42 pm

    Amen and Amen, Thank You, Sean for finding a way to express the meditation of my heart! ❤️Happy Thanksgiving 🦃 to You & Yours! Always thankful for your thoughts…

  53. Louis Wood - November 24, 2022 4:47 pm

    Thank you.

  54. Arnold Kring - November 24, 2022 4:55 pm

    You forgot the Korean war (Police action)???

  55. virginia westlake - November 24, 2022 5:03 pm

    You always touch my heart! Thank you!

  56. Mary - November 24, 2022 6:01 pm

    There are not enough words to express my gratitude for our service personnel. With ancestors that fought from revolutionary wars and served through many conflicts up through Vietnam, I thank you. God Bless You.

  57. Vicky Murphy - November 24, 2022 6:38 pm

    Love this column. The time travel messages show the gratitude and difficulties of our American heroes. You message at the end was very meaningful. Thank you for this post!

  58. Bob Rennick - November 24, 2022 6:42 pm

    Sean, The Korean War is often called “The Forgotten War” and your column today added more confirmantion to the title. Just FYI the was was from 1950 to 1953 and more than 54,000 American servicemen died. I salute them this Thanksgiving 2022. I will continue to read you columns. Bob Rennick, 90 years old and a Koren war veteran.

    • Tim - November 24, 2022 9:35 pm

      Thanks Bob for the reminder and for your service. My father in law was in Hawaii preparing to be shipped over to Korea. They were playing baseball and he hit one over the center field fence just as a general was happening by. The general stopped the game and asked my FinL if he thought he could do that again. He said, “I’ll try” he sent the pitchers next pitch over that fence again almost in the same spot! Instead of going overseas he spent the war on the US army team traveling the country playing MLB teams. Some on that army team were Frank Malzone who played for Redsox and the most famous, Don Larsen.

  59. MAM - November 24, 2022 8:22 pm

    A beautiful reminder of those we must always be thankful for, as they protect our freedoms. My dad served in WWI and WWII, staying in the Reserves in between the wars. I never cease to be proud of him and I look forward to the day I will see him and my mom again. Most of all today, we should be thankful that God loves us and watches over us. And we’re always thankful for your uplifting words, Sean. Thanks!

  60. Jae - November 24, 2022 10:20 pm

    Your best posting yet. Thanks for reminding how blessed we are, and how the brave men and women in our military have helped ensure our blessings and freedoms. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

  61. Patricia Gibson - November 24, 2022 11:19 pm

    Prayers lifted in gratitude to our servicemen and women🙏❤️

  62. Stacey Wallace - November 25, 2022 1:20 am

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of our service men and women around the world. May God bless you and keep you safe. You are my heroes; thank you for protecting our country. Love you! Thanks, Sean. Happy Thanksgiving and love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.

  63. cordellg52 - November 25, 2022 2:46 pm

    Thank you, Sean for acknowledging our heartfelt love and gratitude for the sacrifices of our servicemen throughout the world. When we are serving our country to preserve our freedoms it is a time of longing for family and friends as we feel the deep sense of solitude and loneliness.

  64. Susan W Fitch - November 25, 2022 3:07 pm

    Thank YOU, Sean! This is why I love to read your writings!

  65. Linda Willson - November 27, 2022 1:21 am

    I grew up in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and the lovely Rapidan River was a big part of my childhood…from floating it in our fathers Old Town Canoe, fishing for native trout from its headwaters and making memorable crossings on my horse to make forbidden rides to Woodberry Forest School. The Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church, Circa 1874, which I attended with my family EVERY Sunday growing up, is nestled near the edge of this scenic river which meanders thru the small bucolic town of Rapidan….its difficult for me to even imagine how horrid it was for those who endured the Civil War and to have had this place of beauty, comfort and peace so violated….and so here we are once again witnessing yet another country that is adorned with beautiful countryside torn apart by war and with unfathomable loss. It breaks my heart over and over….and so when I read this post I shed yet more tears for those at war.


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