American Holidays: Time to Honor Military Sacrifices

November 28, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Although rocked by a devastating Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was inspired to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving during his administration.

On Oct. 3, 1863, Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

Lincoln’s proclamation includes a prayer for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers” due to the Civil War.

As America celebrates Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we must be truly grateful for the blessings upon our land. We must also exemplify mercy, empathy, and compassion to all victims of war. America must be eternally grateful to all whose sacrifices have preserved our freedoms.

Heart of the Holidays

For the past 16 years, I have been privileged to address audiences throughout America on leadership, violence prevention, and crisis planning.

At the conclusion of each presentation, I share a tribute honoring America’s military sacrifices.

America must honor our military personnel, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Inspired by the proclamation of Lincoln and the natural fire of devotion in the human heart, we must forever be thankful for sacrifices and sensitive toward grieving families.

Now that we have celebrated Thanksgiving Day, we enter into the heart of a sacred time in America. As we enter into the solemn holiday season, we must pause and honor the sacrifices that enable our festivities.

Honor the Fallen

Navy Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Oceanside, Calif., died Oct. 24 at Al Udeid Air Base, Doha, Qatar, in a noncombat-related incident while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael A. Cathcart, 31, of Bay City, Mich., was a Green Beret who died on Nov. 14 in Kundoz Province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire while on dismounted patrol.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, Texas, was assigned to 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. Hairston died on Aug. 12 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by small arms fire.

Navy Boatswain Mate Seaman Yeshabel Villot Carraso, 23, of Parma, Ohio, died as a result of nonhostile causes on June 19 aboard the destroyer James E. Williams while the ship was underway in the Red Sea.

Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Garabrant, 19, of Peterborough, N.H., died while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Army Capt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center, died Oct. 6 in Zhari District, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked her unit with improvised explosion devices. Moreno, a nurse, gave her life trying to help a wounded soldier by running into a mine in a bomb belt rather than staying put. Moreno personifies the Soldier’s Creed, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

Army Sgt. 1st Class Andrew T. Weathers, 30, of DeRidder, La., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; died Sept. 30 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from wounds caused by small-arms fire Sept. 28 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Army Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II, 24, of Accord, N.Y., assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Fort Drum, N.Y.; died April 28, in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Roberto C. Skelt, 41, of York, Fla., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Feb. 12 in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, of wounds caused by small-arms fire.

Final Reflections

America is as great as our honoring of all who have served, especially for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Our country is on the path to reawakening the nation when honor is the heartbeat for those who have served and for the families who suffer from their loss.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see