By Stan Szecowka, Gulf Weekly
A group of servicemen and women are set to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the Bahrain home of the grandson of a former American president who was responsible for formally setting the date for the annual family festivities.
The kingdom is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols the seas of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it includes aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships.
It protects shipping lanes in the Gulf and nearby waters as well as being the naval arm of Central Command, and its aircraft perform combat missions when called upon.
Often, crew members go months without making contact with loved ones back home and, it was for this very reason Hall Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Janice, decided to open their doors last year.
It turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster worth repeating. “Jan and I were thinking that there was a good chance that there might be a number of young navy and marine personnel – men and women – that are here, a long way from home, missing their families terribly,” explained Del. “We wanted to do something.”
“I can’t speak for everybody but at least for our family – the Roosevelt family – Thanksgiving has always been a big one for us. It is right up there with Christmas, it’s above Halloween and equal to a birthday celebration … for us it is a reaffirmation of what family means.”
The couple also knows the feeling of being apart as their grown-up sons, James Austin and Hall Delano II, are back in the US. They stage a Skype dinner/breakfast at 6am Bahrain time with all their family members via laptops strategically placed on empty seats in both rooms beaming live images between California and the kingdom.
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