St. Louis, November 23, 2016 – Thanksgiving is truly a celebration of domestic life centered on the home and family. It is also a time for America to give thanks for the bounty we have in this country.
With all the strife surrounding the recent presidential campaign, it is easy to forget how fortunate we are. The fact that we are able to have rousing disagreements about a candidate is in itself something to be thankful for.
Our ancestors here in America knew that. The Pilgrims who celebrated the first Thanksgiving came to this country for freedom, and our forefathers who wrote our Constitution cemented that freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of speech. And so many other freedoms that people around the world simply do not have.
Our recent election reminded us of our freedom to elect our own representatives. Look at the number of countries that do not have free elections, where tyranny rules. Look at the countries of the world where violent coups are the norm.
Americans are so fortunate for the freedoms we have. Celebrate them on Thanksgiving Day.
At a more intimate level, we are thankful for our families. As you prepare to indulge in this wonderful Thanksgiving meal, take a moment to look around the table. Remind yourself of how lucky you are not only for the turkey, stuffing, pie and ice cream, but also for the person sitting next to you. And the one sitting across from you. Appreciate them all for their quirks and for their strengths and even for their weaknesses. They are all unique and special, and how blessed are you to have them at your table!
Looking back over 80-something years, I see how Thanksgiving has remained constant throughout the time. Roles change – the person who used to play childish games and refuse to eat vegetables now brings his own children to the feast and tries to coax them to eat green beans. Those who used to plan and prepare the meals now supervise as “official food consultants,” while their children handle the actual preparation. Football still takes place on Thanksgiving, only now there are different uniforms, more technology, and different experts giving commentary.
I remember eating Thanksgiving when I was in the Navy. We were far from home, but we had the traditional Thanksgiving menu, topped off with cigars.
As you eat your meal and beam at your family, take a moment to remember our service members who are sharing turkey with their military families, but not with their friends and family, so that they can keep us safe.
We still take pictures, although now we use digital cameras and camcorders. The photos now go on the family web pages and Facebook so those far and wide can enjoy.
Now that I am a senior, I can finally see the true secret ingredient for Thanksgiving. It is the same today as it was 80 years ago. It was the same ingredient on a Navy ship or in my own kitchen or visiting friends and family. That ingredient is love. It is the common thread that binds us together and makes Thanksgiving memorable.
Love makes the days worth living. It makes Thanksgiving special. On this day, give thanks not only for our freedoms, but also for the blessing of friends and family. A day of togetherness rekindles family unity and creates memories we can re-live all year.
Thanksgiving is the day in which we must always remember the purpose of the holiday. Take time to acknowledge the blessing of living in a country that is free. Celebrate the freedom of religion, a sacred freedom enshrined in the very founding of our country. And celebrate each other. Give thanks for the joy of family and friends.
That is what we are truly thankful for.
Have a very Happy and blessed Thanksgiving-
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