Why Thanksgiving is in our heritage
Full Contact Project Management
Thanksgiving is upon us. Some of us Americans may have a tendency to take for granted this holiday as a much-welcomed, four-day weekend. Of course, it is so much more than that, and this year I’d like to challenge you. But first, I need to remind you of a piece of history.
Seventy years ago, on Dec. 16, 1944, German forces launched a surprise offensive against the U.S. Third Army in the Ardennes, a heavily forested area in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. This became popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Here are the numbers: 610,000 U.S. forces in the battle, suffering 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed. It was the largest and bloodiest battle fought by the U.S. in World War II. And, it was horribly expensive for the German war machine, as well.
This battle raged on through Jan. 25. Picture that battle, not only for the troops involved, but also for those families back home who would shortly be notified of a terrible loss. Do this as you and your family sit around the dinner table this Thanksgiving.
Add to this picture the realization that those hundreds of thousands of soldiers were outside and in the cold for a month and a half, on short rations, with low supplies of ammunition, and in complete surround by the enemy.
The German commander sent a message under a flag of truce to Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, who was commanding the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, demanding the immediate and unconditional surrender of his forces, or they’d suffer complete annihilation.
Gen. McAuliffe sent a reply back with the German messengers. It became one of the most quoted sayings from the War. He said to the messengers to give their commander this reply to his demand of surrender: “From the American commander to the German commander: NUTS!” With the messengers looking bewildered, some American soldiers told them that they could translate the general’s message as this: “Go to hell!”
The American forces never did surrender there. They somehow held on through January, even inflicting a heavy toll on the enemy, until Gen. George Patton broke through and brought in the reinforcements that chased away the enemy.
So this Thanksgiving, should you be sitting in your own version of “out in the cold,” whatever that might be from business issues to personal, do yourself a huge favor and remember what is actually before you.
We sometimes talk about having too much on our plates to handle more. When you put it all into perspective, you do have a lot on your plate. But I’m talking about food, shelter and freedom. It’s all pretty much just plopped there for you, isn’t it? If you disagree, then do a little comparison shopping among third-world countries. Heck, can you name more than a couple, even from the first world? Probably not.
For most Americans, Thanksgiving 2014’s “Battle of the Bulge” will have nothing to do with a pending military battle, but simply eating too much. Wouldn’t it be great if that were not the case this year, and we could reflect on the events some seven decades ago, grateful for those who did what they did. As the saying goes, “All gave some; some gave all.” Be really, really thankful.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.