The first Thanksgiving was held by colonists in celebration
of a plentiful harvest after a harsh winter. Not as pilgrims,
but as volunteers, many return home this Thanksgiving to celebrate
their good fortune after helping those affected by three cruel
and ruthless storms of the 2005 hurricane season. There is
a lot to be thankful for this year.
As Medical Reserve Corps members, we have spent much of
our recent days, weeks and months assisting in the response
and recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast. While doing so,
we have seen pain, suffering and devastation, but also a
will to come back stronger and a desire to rebuild. From
our experiences, we come away thankful for our safety, health,
and homes, as well as the countless routine things we do
each day, but often take for granted. Now, going to the
grocery store or flicking on a light switch will cause us
to feel a bit more grateful and hold more meaning.
We also have each other. Through teamwork on deployments
and in our local communities, the MRC has continued to do
important work. Yet we could not do this work alone. Because
of the special support of co-workers, friends and family
while we conducted response activities, our homes and offices
continued to run smoothly. The willingness of those around
us to carry on, while we deployed, set-up shelters, staffed
hotlines and held training sessions, is to be applauded.
Without the assistance of these important individuals, volunteers
with the MRC would not have been able to execute their mission
of strengthening public health infrastructure in communities
and responding in the event of a disaster. Please make sure,
as I will, to include your colleagues, families and friends
when giving thanks this holiday season.
This Thursday I will be spending the day with my loved
ones, counting the many blessings in my life. You, your
families, and the many others who have helped us in our
mission, during what was a truly unforgiving hurricane season,
will be on the top of my list.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.