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Thanksgiving Eve at Ely Cathedral

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- American service members, their families and other employees of RAFs Mildenhall and Lakenheath attend a service at Ely Cathedral on the eve of Thanksgiving Nov. 23, 2011. The 25th annual Thanksgiving service gave U.S. service members in England an opportunity to enjoy a holiday service at one of the cathedrals in the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- American service members, their families and other employees of RAFs Mildenhall and Lakenheath attend a service at Ely Cathedral on the eve of Thanksgiving Nov. 23, 2011. The 25th annual Thanksgiving service gave U.S. service members in England an opportunity to enjoy a holiday service at one of the cathedrals in the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Chaplain (Col.) Gerald Scott Henry, U.S. Air Force in Europe command chaplain, guest speaker at the event, addresses attendees at the 25th annual Thanksgiving service in Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The service of thanks is conducted every year for American service members, their families and other employees of RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Chaplain (Col.) Gerald Scott Henry, U.S. Air Force in Europe command chaplain, guest speaker at the event, addresses attendees at the 25th annual Thanksgiving service in Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The service of thanks is conducted every year for American service members, their families and other employees of RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Col. John Quintas, 48th Fighter Wing commander, gives the closing comments during the Thanksgiving service at Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The service gives U.S. Service members in England an opportunity to enjoy a holiday service at one of the cathedrals in the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Col. John Quintas, 48th Fighter Wing commander, gives the closing comments during the Thanksgiving service at Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The service gives U.S. Service members in England an opportunity to enjoy a holiday service at one of the cathedrals in the local area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Henry Close, 100th Air Refueling Wing chaplain, gives the final blessing during the Thanksgiving service at Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The cathedral was built by William the Conqueror as a prominent outpost after the bloody and lengthy rebellion by Hereward the Wake. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

RAF MILDENHALL, England – Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Henry Close, 100th Air Refueling Wing chaplain, gives the final blessing during the Thanksgiving service at Ely Cathedral Nov. 23, 2011. The cathedral was built by William the Conqueror as a prominent outpost after the bloody and lengthy rebellion by Hereward the Wake. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ethan Morgan)

ELY, United Kingdom -- For many Americans in the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving consists of a Thanksgiving service at their place of worship on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

It was no different for Americans in the U.K., as Airmen from Royal Air Forces Lakenheath, Mildenhall, Feltwell and others joined their English neighbors Nov. 23 at Ely Cathedral to celebrate Thanksgiving and have a night of fellowship.

In 1986, the neighboring British, knowing the importance of this American holiday, wanted to give the Americans living here a special place to thank God for His blessings. Thus the annual Thanksgiving service at the Ely Cathedral, a cathedral said by some to be one of the seven wonders of the medieval world, started.

"This is my second and also last time I'll be able to visit the cathedral for Thanksgiving," said Senior Airman April Brown, 48th Inpatient Squadron aerospace medical technician. "Being away from family, it's always nice to have some place to go, especially somewhere as beautiful as here."

The 25th annual Thanksgiving service started with Canon David Pritchard, Ely Cathedral (acting) Dean, welcoming those in attendance and wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

The service continued with the RAFs Lakenheath and Mildenhall combined choirs singing hymns and chaplains from both bases reading scripture and leading prayers.
Chaplain (Col.) G. Scott Henry, U.S. Air Forces in Europe command chaplain, was the service's featured speaker.

"We must never give up on people or ourselves," said Henry. "Break from what it means to be a stranger... we learn from those who are different from us."

He then encouraged everyone to offer hospitality to others even strangers.

"It'll bring a sense of community, and in giving, you will receive the most" he added.

After the Thanksgiving message, the host commander, Col. John Quintas, 48th Fighter Wing commander, gave the closing comments to those who attended.

"I'm continuously humbled by all the support we receive from the staff and volunteers," he said. "On behalf of myself and [Col. Christopher Kulas] the 100th Air Refueling Wing commander, thank you for what you do and the sacrifices you've made."