US 'lone soldier' carves Thanksgiving turkey
US 'lone soldier' carves Thanksgiving turkey Israel news photo: Flash 90

This year, the American holiday of Thanksgiving has a special significance for some of the survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Jews begin the day upon rising from bed with a prayer of thanks for returning one's soul to their body. But in the general population, especially among those who experienced the fury of the hurricane and the nor'easter that followed, this year's holiday -- established to commemorate the first year of survival of the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 -- provides a special opportunity to appreciate life.

Tens of thousands of people were left homeless, and millions of others spent days in the cold, with powerless homes left in the dark. The storm's fury ripped out much of the electricity grid along the East Coast. Whatever was not ripped out was damaged by corrosion from salt water that flooded in from the storm. Wind tore out trees from yards, tossing them around like matchsticks before flinging them on to cars and houses.

Nearly a month later, thousands are still without power – gas and heat – and the situation is likely to continue at least until the end of this calendar year, if not later, officials said.

Gas rationing continues in the New York area, and car rental agencies are reporting a shortage in vehicles due to the number of damaged cars.

The AAA agency in the United States has estimated that more than 43.6 million Americans will leave home and travel out of town for the holiday – but most of those who survived the storm have already gone.

Still, survivors of the storm said they had much to be “thankful” for – “we have our lives, after all,” said one resident of New Haven, Connecticut who requested anonymity.

U.S. President Barack Obama extended the annual presidential pardon to “Cobbler,” a 19-week-old, 40-pound turkey from Rockingham County, Virginia, and his alternate, “Gobbler,” in the traditional photo op at the White House on Wednesday. “Congratulations, Cobbler,” Obama said. “You're going to have a great life.”

The president added, however, that Americans should take a moment to remember the survivors of Hurricane Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. Obama commented that he saw much destruction during his tour of the northeast following the superstorm, “but I have yet to find a broken spirit.”

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