Brian Smith spent Thanksgiving mapping out how donated food would be delivered to needy neighbors. His mind was focused on his holiday task. His heart was half a world away. "This one is a lot more special," he said, "simply because my son is over in Iraq."
His son's 82nd Airborne unit landed in Fallujah two weeks ago. Since then, everyday has been like Thanksgiving for the Smith family. "I find myself going to guys who have been over there who just came back, shaking their hands," the officer said, "telling them thank you. It's just brought a whole new meaning to the whole situation."
Marty Goodman could appreciate what Smith said. The Gulfport reserve officer could also appreciate the symbolism of this Thanksgiving. "It's more special this year than it has been in the past," he said while placing cranberry cups on Feed the Needy plates.
Goodman's entire family was home for Thanksgiving. But next week, his 27 year old son returns to his 890th Engineering unit somewhere in Iraq. "They seem to be doing their job. They're doing it well," the elder Goodman said about his son's unit. "I'm not nervous about it. Mom is a little upset. But that's to be expected I guess."
Because his son is in Iraq, Officer Smith has a new appreciation for the men and women who defend this country. "It makes you look at them and be more thankful I guess," Smith said, "because now you know what the parents are going through and how you worry about what exactly is happening over there."
Figuring out how to get 1,700 plates of Thanksgiving food to the people who need it took some work. But Officer Smith handled it -- just like his son's unit was handling its duties in Iraq.