Soldier gives thanks for warmth of home

By Karen Colbenson

Mark Erickson is thankful that this year he will get to spend Thanksgiving with his daughter, instead of being 5,000 miles away from home.

One year ago today, Cpl. Erickson of Austin was serving in the National Guard in southeastern Kosovo. Although the weather there resembled Minnesota’s cold Thanksgiving Day, the holiday just wasn’t the same, he said.

Soldiers filed into a decorated dining facility on Camp Bondsteel for a aromatic traditional Thanksgiving meal, but the warmth of family was noticeably missing.


"It was nice for our circumstances, but everybody was comparing the food to what, you know, grandma makes back home," said Erickson.

"We missed the home cooking. We missed our families."

Over a Web cam that day, Erickson spoke with his family and daughter, Lilly Lange-Erickson, who was just a year old at the time. It was a bittersweet moment for Erickson, who said it was "nice to be able to see her" but painful to be so far away from his child.

Erickson’s mother, Sherri, knows the feeling.

"It was strange not to have Mark here — we always spent Thanksgiving together," she said. "It’s like something is really missing when you don’t have your kid there with you."

This year, mom is doing the cooking for a family Thanksgiving dinner that Erickson said now holds extra special meaning.

"I’m thankful to be home, to be back from overseas and alive," said Erickson. "I’m most thankful for just getting to be around my daughter for the holidays."

As families across the country come together to celebrate today, Erickson said he hopes the soldiers far away from the comforts of home will be remembered.

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