Today is all about tradition: turkey and stuffing; family, friends, and football. From early childhood, we all learn the origin story of Thanksgiving that is so mythically central to its celebration. Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony marked a successful harvest with a feast to which they invited Native Americans who had lent much-needed assistance after the previous hard winter. Records of earlier harvest celebrations and debates about the actual provenance of what would become our Thanksgiving aside, it is no surprise that the centuries-long history would make it the holiday most steeped in uniform tradition across America. But how did thanksgiving become Thanksgiving? As it turns out, this particular holiday’s history is inextricably linked to America’s military history.


Read the full story at War on the Rocks.


John Amble is editorial director of the Modern War Institute. He is a former US Army officer and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. The opinions here are the author’s own and do not reflect the policy of the US Army, Department of Defense, or any government agency.

Photo credit: Expert Infantry