By Tom Dare
FASCINATING FOOTAGE FROM the Vietnam War showing members of the United States army and navy enjoying a traditional Thanksgiving dinner half way around the world has resurfaced today, as millions of Americans prepare to celebrate the annual holiday.
Video from 1969 shows a group of navy personnel being served a menu of shrimp cocktail followed by turkey with all the trimmings on board their ship, while further footage from 1966 shows a unit stationed deep in the Vietnamese jungle being brought a full turkey dinner via helicopter.
The videos have remerged this week as people across the United States celebrate Thanksgiving.
The American armed forces have always put in great effort to provide their servicemen and women with a proper Thanksgiving dinner regardless of where they might find themselves, with the practice dating back as far as the Second World War.
A total of approximately 2,800,000 pounds of turkey, 192,000 pounds of shrimp, 787,500 pounds of potatoes, 383,933 pounds of cranberry sauce and 350,000 pounds of fruitcake were shipped to U.S. military personnel over the holiday in 1969, with similar amounts shipped throughout America’s involvement in the Vietnam campaign.
Speaking over Thanksgiving in 1969, President Richard Nixon said:
“On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invited his fellow citizens to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving…” This was the year of the battle of Gettysburg and of other major battles between Americans on American soil. To many, this call for a national day of Thanksgiving must have seemed strange, coming as it did at a time of war and bitterness.
“Yet Lincoln knew that the act of thanksgiving should not be limited to time of peace and serenity. He knew that it is precisely at those times of hardship when men most need to recognize that the Source of all good constantly bestows His blessings on mankind.
“Today, despite our material wealth and well-being, Americans face complex problems unknown before in our nation’s history. In giving thanks today, we express gratitude for past bounty and we also confidently face the challenges confronting our own nation and the world because we know we can rely on a strength greater than ourselves.”