“Home” For the Holidays

11-23 1943-Menu-TgivingFor many young men and women, joining the Navy means leaving family, friends, and home for the first time. New friends and new routines replace the old, but some things just aren’t the same. This is especially true around the holidays when decorations in the barracks and a galley holiday menu can’t replace putting up the Christmas tree with family ornaments as tempting aromas waft from the kitchen while a Bowl game plays on the television.

For some lucky ones, leave is approved. For most, the holidays will be spent at the barracks and in the galley. But not for all…

11-23 Bld5-WWI-XmasDinner
For the past 98 years, local families have been welcoming Sailors into their homes for a holiday meal and a chance to spend the day at home; not their home but a warm and welcoming one nevertheless. The idea was first suggested in 1917 to Captain Moffett, the Great Lakes commanding officer, by a young lady. It was an immediate success.

The January 1918 Great Lakes Recruit magazine recalls:

“On Thanksgiving Day thousands of Great Lakes bluejackets were guests of Chicago and its suburbs. The invitations received were five times as many as could be filled. Chicago proved herself a wonderful hostess in her clubs and hotels and in her private homes.”

11-23 1953-TgivingMenu-GLK-2

While many Thanksgiving traditions continue today, cigarettes are no longer on the menu.

The tradition continues to this day and has spread beyond Great Lakes and Chicago. Many families have relatives in the service and by “adopting” Sailors, they are able to pass along the cheer that they hope their loved ones are receiving far away.

Throughout the Navy, Sailors are “adopted” to spend Thanksgiving and December holidays with “family.” In addition to families, Navy sailors are hosted by local churches, veterans groups, and civic organizations.

Read more about the “Adopt a Sailor” program here: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=85059 (Adopt-A-Sailor Program Gives Recruits A Home for the Holiday   By Sue Krawczyk, Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Public Affairs.

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