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Military mom gives thanks for faith, freedom, family and the farm

It’s a tradition in most families to observe birthdays and mark them in a special way, so it makes sense to me that we do the same on Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

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Lance Cprl.Thomas Gregoire, machine gunner in the U.S. Marine Corps 2/5 Weapons Division, trains in the Mojave Desert in California.

November is the month in which a day is set aside to honor military veterans and another to give thanks.

Both days are meaningful to me because my son is a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and I am grateful for his service and also for many other things in my life.

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Thomas Gregoire swore into the U.S. Marine Corps by repeating the military oath of enlistment on Nov. 5, 2018. Ann Bailey / Agweek

It could legitimately be argued that honoring veterans and being thankful for our blessings are things which we should do every day. However, I think that it’s important to designate specific days — Nov. 11 for Veterans Day and the third Thursday in November for Thanksgiving — because it causes us to pause, reflect and celebrate on those days.


It’s a tradition in most families to observe birthdays and mark them in a special way, so it makes sense to me that we do the same on Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

I long have had an appreciation for veterans because I have great-uncles who served in World War I, my father was a member of the Army Air Corps in World War II, and one of my brothers-in-law is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

My gratitude for the U.S. military grew even greater when three years ago on Nov. 5, my second-oldest son Thomas enlisted in the Marines. After graduation from boot camp in San Diego in January 2019, he went to the U.S. Marine Corps School of Infantry where he learned to be a machine gunner.

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Thomas Gregoire graduated from boot camp on Feb. 1, 2019. U.S. Marine Corps contributed photo

Since then, Thomas’ days have been filled with constant readiness training: 10- to 20-mile hikes in the California desert carrying a 75-pound pack and 45-pound machine gun, survival training in sub-freezing temperatures in the state’s snow-covered mountains, and consecutive days with no sleep and only ready-to-eat meals to sustain him.

Of course, that’s what Thomas signed up for when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and he doesn’t complain about the intense, physical work that is expected in his career choice. Meanwhile, our son obviously is much more aware than his parents about the threats to U.S. freedom and that he has to be ready to defend and protect the country at a moment’s notice.

The things I do know, which have been reported in the media, are enough, though, to make me worry about his safety, while at the same time being proud of his willingness to put his life on the line.


During Thomas’ 2020 Middle East deployment ,when my worry was the most intense, I told myself that he is in God’s hands and that whatever happened, it would not change that fact. My faith in God sustained me through Thomas’ deployment, as it has during other challenging times in my life.

On Thanksgiving, I will give thanks, first for God, and then for Thomas, his fellow Marines, and members of other military service branches who protect our country and the right to celebrate holidays. At the top of my thankfulness list also will be my husband, Brian; our oldest son, Brendan; and our daughter, Ellen, who, along with Thomas, make up the best family for which I could ever ask to be a part of.

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Ann Bailey is thankful for family time, like Ellen's graduation, on May 23, 2021. From left are Thomas Gregoire, Brian Gregoire, Ellen Gregoire, Ann Bailey and Brendan Gregoire. Contributed photo

Besides God, the U.S. military and our family, I also am thankful for farmers and that I grew up on a farm and live on one today. I’m grateful that many generations of families on both sides tilled the soil and raised livestock and that I live on a farmstead that has been in the family for 110 years.

Ann Bailey is grateful to live on the farm near Larimore, North Dakota, that's been in the family since 1911. Ann Bailey / Agweek

It’s not a coincidence that my love for agriculture was a major part of my decision to work for Agweek magazine, another blessing for which I will give thanks on Nov. 25.


It’s my privilege to wish readers many blessings and reasons to celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving.

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