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November 28, 2013

Happy Repasts and Heroes

Harry M. Covert

Regardless of when or where or who started the feast day, or who set aside the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day is one of remembrance, joy and hope.


The "why," of course, goes without saying?


While many people like to think only of bad things throughout the land, today is the opportunity to enjoy all of the blessings and attributes of living in Frederick, Maryland, and in America.


It's often fun to point out unpleasant things that regularly grace conversations in the coffee klatches, tea rooms and other refreshment centers.


The vast majority of fellow citizens enjoy lives in every quarter with good families, fine colleagues and overwhelming successes.


There is no place any better around the world. Those who are constantly mad at the world need only visit other countries.


A blurb appeared that France was sending 2,000 troops to the Central African Republic because of another threatened coup. The landlocked former colony gained independence in 1960.


At the conclusion of a relief trip to Zaire two decades ago, our team was flown from Kinshasa, then in Zaire but now The Congo, headed to Brussels. In the middle of the night, 2 o'clock to be exact, the plane made an emergency landing in Banqui, Central African Republic. The plane’s fuel tanks were almost empty.


It's at this point a Thanksgiving spirit crosses your mind. Fear gets in there, too.


At landing, the pilot deplaned with two black satchels and allowed some of the 26 passengers to get off to stretch their aching legs. Then a shock. Five French military planes with troops in khaki battle gear and rifles at the ready.


Only a small light bulb burned at the door of the airport shack. The airport manager had raced home. The pilot managed a jeep ride to the manager's home. It was imperative to get away. The purpose was to find jet fuel. His bags were filled with Zairian diamonds and various gems.


With help of the French paratroopers, the terrified fuel man was brought back and Zairian President Mobutu's plane was filled.


Thankfully, the troopers made certain takeoff was without trouble. A few hours later Zaire Plane 1 reached Belgium. Relief, happiness and smiles were on every face.


Back in the old colony the French quelled the anticipated uprising in rapid order. France still has to protect the innocents.


News stories report the plights of Americans being held in foreign countries. To name a few, North Koreans hold a visiting and aged American veteran; Iran detains a former FBI agent and also an Iranian-American Christian minister; Cuba still imprisons a Maryland man; while another kidnapped Marylander is missing in Pakistan.


Many other Americans are suffering around the world.


While enjoying repasts of all sorts today and throughout the "holy-days" of Hanukkah and Christmas, there's plenty to be thankful and happy about. Make a list and don't forget compatriots around the globe, often cynically called do-gooders. These people are heroes.


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