Posted: Nov. 23, 2004


Thanksgiving in Afghanistan

As the Pilgrims gave thanks for survival and the basic decencies of life in a new world they were making up as they went along, Richard S. Gebelein is doing the same this year in Afghanistan.

Gebelein, the Superior Court judge serving as an army colonel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, shared his holiday thoughts Monday from his e-mail address at when he wrote to Delaware Grapevine:

“I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. We really do have a lot to be thankful for. Things like tap water that we can drink, paved roads, central heating in our houses and even a sewer system that works. 

“Here in Kabul, a city of close to two million people, only about 7 percent of them have electricity. On the mountainsides surrounding the city are thousands of houses. For water the residents must walk hundreds of yards down the mountains to wells with hand pumps. These are the houses of people with jobs and with some resources. A few may even have a generator to give them electricity, although most do not.  

“We in the military have it much better. The majority of soldiers, sailors and air personnel live on the military bases or compounds. In Kabul Compound we have a number of refurbished houses and many buildings constructed from Conex [portable steel] containers. The buildings are functional although crowded. There are dining facilities run by a civilian contractor. The food is plentiful, if not of gourmet quality. Bottled water is plentiful and is used for all purposes, except bathing. It is essential here to drink a lot of water.  

“For Thanksgiving, Kabul Compound will be celebrating with a traditional meal. In addition, the officers will be pulling force protection duty so that those soldiers, who get virtually no down time, will have the opportunity for some time off and a real Thanksgiving dinner. Normally they eat on duty in watch towers, at gates and other security checkpoints. Clearly, we want to thank them for keeping us safe. 

“I think everyone here has a keen understanding of what they as Americans have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!”

Thanksgiving in Delaware politics

Delaware Democrats and Republicans are being grateful in different ways this Thanksgiving, as a look at their Web sites shows.

The Democrats are giving thanks for their winning candidates. The Republicans are giving thanks for not losing as badly as they did four years ago.

The Democrats at devoted their home page to sending congratulations to everyone from Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to local council members.

The Republicans at used their Web site for what was either a brave case of cockeyed optimism or a classic display of denial, writing:

"The Republican Party can't begin to thank you enough for your hard work this election cycle. Despite being out-registered by over 60,000 Democrats, we were able to close the gap on the presidential race . . . and thanks to your help, we nearly toppled incumbent Ruth Ann Minner."

The Republicans settled for being grateful for 1,104 volunteers, 15,000 yard signs, 40,000 bumper stickers, 8,233 newly registered Republicans, 61 telephone lines and 83 press releases.

Delaware Grapevine also has many reasons for giving thanks as this electronic newspaper ends its second year. Press releases will be pretty far down on the list, though.