Keep U.S. troops' efforts in mind during holidays.

As families gather for Thanksgiving, many will exchange their reasons to give thanks.

The wonderful gift of being together should be one common theme, as it's a blessing we too often take for granted.

As for families with a loved one at war, their thoughts during the holiday understandably may be a world away.

Eleven years have passed since the United States engaged in the invasion of Afghanistan as part of the war on terror; two years later, U.S.-led coalition forces launched the war in Iraq.

While the Iraq War finally came to a close late last year, fighting in Afghanistan continues in what's become the nation's longest war.

Numerous soldiers and sailors from Garden City, Finney County and the region were called on to serve in the war on terror. Practically everyone knows someone, be it a family member or friend, who's had a part in one or both wars.

Sadly, many troops made the ultimate sacrifice. To date, the United States has lost more than 6,500 U.S. military personnel to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many more made it home, but were changed forever due to emotional and physical wounds.

It's a staggering toll, and cause for the federal government to do all it can to bring an end to war and also ward off further conflict elsewhere across the globe as Middle East turmoil creates still more cause for concern.

This nation already has observed far too many holidays with U.S. troops embroiled in deadly fighting. More must be done to keep them out of harm's way.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, the many families who've mourned the loss of a loved one at war or in other tragic circumstances will reflect on how life is fragile and fleeting.

Indeed, no one should take a single day for granted.

Thanksgiving brings an ideal time to count our blessings.

Atop the list should be the precious, irreplaceable time we have with family and friends.

Count the contributions of our military men and women who sacrifice so much, along with their families, as still more cause to give thanks.