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90th EARS participates in Feast of Sacrifice
Staff Sgt. Anne Phillips, 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, gives meat from a sacrificed sheep to a local Turkish family Oct. 25, 2012, at Incirlik Village, Turkey. This was the first time many local shop owners saw Americans participating in the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice holiday, or Kurban Bayrami, part of which includes charitable practices by helping those in need. (U.S. Air Force photos by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)
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90th EARS participates in Feast of Sacrifice

Posted 11/1/2012   Updated 11/7/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

11/1/2012 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Though some may find it intimidating to step boldly into a foreign land, many choose to embrace their unfamiliar surroundings and experience what the region has to offer.

Recently, Airmen from the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron did this by participating in some of the customs of the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice holiday, known as Kurban Bayrami in Turkey.

The feast's origins come from the story of Abraham heading up a mountain to sacrifice his son, but his son's life was spared by God's provision of a ram. In a spirit of thankfulness during this festival, animals are sacrificed and the meat divided into portions -- some being kept by the family, and the rest given away to the poor.

The more the 90th EARS heard about the Feast of Sacrifice, the more they found it interesting and wanted to participate in some way as non-Muslims, said Lt. Col. Mike Moeding, 90th EARS commander.

Many 90th EARS Airmen noticed the parallels between Kurban Bayrami and Thanksgiving and Christmas with families gathering together and taking care of those in need, and how though the cultures might differ on small points, there are many similarities.

Capt. C.J. Hein, 90th EARS KC-135 pilot, came up with an idea as he was passing through Adana on the way to base.

"I saw all these sheep on the side of the road," he said. "The cab driver explained why they were there and I thought, 'Hey, why don't we buy a sheep.'"

From there, the idea took off. Several 90th EARS members donated money to buy a sheep, and a couple Airmen went out with help from a Turkish friend, Hussein, to pick it out.

They donated all the meat from the sheep to local Adana families, rather than keeping some for themselves, according to tradition.

Many local shop owners said they had never heard of Americans buying a sheep for the Kurban Bayram and giving it away to the poor. They thought what the 90th EARS did was wonderful and should be talked about in town.

One of the families the 90th EARS gave part of the sheep to was a young woman and her who husband had lost his leg and was unable to work and support their three children.
When we brought the meat to them, she was overjoyed and kissed several of us on both cheeks, Moeding described.

"Helping those in need is part of the custom during this holiday. This is a way for us to show goodwill through Turkish culture," Moeding continued. "We're not pushing the religious part, but focusing on the charitable part. We want to do something nice for the local community by partaking in one of their customs."

"This was a way to learn about the history and culture of Turkey," Hein added. "We get to interact with them, bring our cultures together, understand each other better, and through doing so, take a step in helping make the world a better place."

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