As you surround yourselves with friends and loved ones this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to reflect on the meaning of the holiday before diving into that turkey dinner.

This installation and division are well aware that we are a nation that has been at war for 16 years. Multiple rotations, battlefields and millions of moments lost, you and your Families have endured and prevailed both at home and abroad.

President George Washington, in his Thanksgiving Proclamation on Oct. 3, 1789, spoke of giving thanks to a higher power for “the favorable interpositions of his providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty, which we have since enjoyed. ...”

Few nations know the price of liberty like ours, yet, too often the genesis of that liberty is overlooked. The values, character and conscience of the country are firmly rooted in every formation across the Army. The heart of the American Soldier remains stout and his purpose remains fixed: To fight and win. For that, the nation is thankful.

Today’s Soldier is revered by those we seek to protect and feared by those who seek to cause us harm. A July Gallup poll identified the U.S. military as America’s most trusted institution. The poll found 78 percent of U.S. citizens have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the U.S. armed forces – the highest rating in 20 years. Because the American people know the value of their warfighters in keeping the homeland safe, and perhaps more importantly, they cited personal experiences as a large part of their confidence in you.

Throughout this holiday season, many of you will return home to celebrate with your Families and friends where you can speak of your experiences in the Army and at Fort Campbell. You can speak of the bonds and burdens shared by Soldiers, and the hard work and dedication to duty it takes to be a Soldier. Others will recognize you as a Soldier by the way you carry yourself and they will thank you. The young will look up to you and the old will be proud of you. Be thankful for a grateful nation and recognize that you represent the American Soldier to everyone you meet.

Lastly, and without getting into the weeds of a safety brief, I implore you to stay safe and protect what you have earned. Your unit, the Army and the nation need you to continue using your experience preparing for war and protecting our way of life. As the secretary of defense so succinctly puts it, engage your brain before pulling the trigger.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.