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Celebrating Thanksgiving From Thousands of Miles Away

November 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST
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While millions of Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday at home, thousands of U.S. troops are spending it in Afghanistan and beyond. Kwame Holman reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Americans around the world observed Thanksgiving today. In New York City, thousands lined the streets for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the first time, marching bands, floats, and giant balloons took a new, longer route, bypassing Broadway.

And across the country, people volunteered in kitchens and helped prepare and serve Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

Overseas, U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan had their own traditional Thanksgiving meals.

NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman begins our lead story coverage.

MAN: … wherever they might be overseas, but here today in Afghanistan.

KWAME HOLMAN: The ambassador later visited troops recovering in a hospital, some eating their Thanksgiving meal in bed and sending warm wishes home.

MAN: I love you, and I miss you very much. Yes, I’m a little bit beat-up, but I’m OK.

KWAME HOLMAN: Even soldiers serving in remote areas of Afghanistan received a taste of home. These Marines based in a tiny outpost in the town of Delaram enjoyed meals trucked in from a larger base.

MAN: It goes good, enjoying a great meal. I actually didn’t think we would be eating so good on Thanksgiving, but it definitely brings home here.

KWAME HOLMAN: Today’s holiday celebrations come ahead of President Obama’s announcement of a new battle plan for Afghanistan in a national address Tuesday night from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The military says it could include some 30,000 troops, a roughly 50 percent increase in the number of U.S. forces there. But administration officials caution that the president has not settled on a final figure.

In his Thanksgiving address from the White House, Mr. Obama offered gratitude to troops overseas and their families.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families marking this Thanksgiving with an empty seat, saved for a son or daughter, a husband or a wife stationed in harm’s way. And we say a special thanks for the sacrifices those men and women in uniform are making for our safety and freedom, and for all those Americans who enrich the lives of our communities through acts of kindness, and generosity and service.

KWAME HOLMAN: President Obama later made calls to 10 U.S. service men and women stationed in war zones to give his personal thanks.

Other NATO leaders also are considering sending more troops to Afghanistan, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Officials there were focused today on the forced resignations of the head of Germany’s armed forces and another senior defense official, after it was reported they were involved in withholding details of the NATO airstrike last September that killed 30 civilians in Northern Afghanistan.