Congress gives thanks with meal for service members around the world

The U.S. Congress is giving thanks for serving the men and women serving in the field with a Thanksgiving meal to more than 1,000 service members deployed around the world.

This year’s holiday has special meaning for members of Congress as they’re away from home for the first time since the deadly shooting at a congresswoman’s open-air baseball practice on June 14, when Republican Steve Scalise was among those shot.

The House of Representatives and Senate held a joint sitting on Thursday to bring holiday cheer to families of the troops, from Puerto Rico and military families in Florida and Washington.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urged the whole country to show its support for military families.

Members of Congress serve Thanksgiving meal in South Korea, head to Taiwan — Aaron Smith (@aaroncsmith) February 17, 2016

“These are the people who are serving us,” Ryan said. “They do not expect a lot of attention for what they do.”

U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Members of Congress serve Thanksgiving meal in South Korea, head to Taiwan — Aaron Smith (@aaroncsmith) February 17, 2016

Almost all of the members of Congress will be back in their districts by Thursday for the year-end Thanksgiving break.

The holiday dinner included hundreds of other troops, their families and the guests of honor, including House chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy.

Numerous political leaders were in attendance, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

This isn’t the first time U.S. politicians have visited the troops for a holiday meal. Just last year, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Reps. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., all made the trip.

One member of Congress also took a travel detour to pay his respects to people killed in the 1983 attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, made the trip to Afghanistan’s largest city of Kandahar to honor some of the 12 U.S. soldiers killed by al Qaeda during the attack.

“I didn’t know it was possible to feel so sorry for someone when you’re doing the same things every day in the same places,” Gallego said.

U.S. Marines, the victims’ families and Gallego’s wife make memorial trip to Kandahar, Afghanistan — Aaron Smith (@aaroncsmith) February 16, 2016

Now in his third Congress, Gallego will be the only solider to have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is also one of the few Latinos in Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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