November 22, 2009
How very precious is the Native American saying: "Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart. Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way". The joy of Thanksgiving neighborliness lives on in light of the past and the reassuring hope for the future. Well over three and a half centuries ago, strengthened by faith and bound by a common desire for liberty, a small band of Pilgrims sought out a place in the New World where they could worship according to their own beliefs. Surviving their first harsh winter in Massachusetts and grateful to a merciful God for a sustaining harvest, the men and women of Plymouth Colony set aside three days as a time to give thanks for the bounty of their fields, the bond of friendship with their Native American neighbors, and the blessings of a land where they could live and worship freely. And that spirit of uniting and gathering together lives on in Thanksgiving.
We have come far on our American journey since that early Thanksgiving. In the intervening years, we have lived through times of war and peace, years of poverty and plenty, and seasons of hardship and triumph. As many join on this Thanksgiving, it is a fitting time to reflect on how the events of our rich history and of times present. As we give thanks for the past, we do so knowing that the individual blessings for which we give thanks may have changed, but our gratitude to Divine Providence and our commitment to our fellow Americans remain constant now and always. For the joy of gathering together in thanksgiving, in spirit or in reality, lives on.
This Thanksgiving season we express thanks for the men and women who work to keep America safe, strong and secure. Members of our Armed Forces, State and local law enforcement agencies, and first responders... firefighters, health, emergency and disaster personnel... ALL of them embody our Nation's highest ideals of courage and devotion to duty. Our country and each of our individual communities are grateful for their service and for the support and sacrifice of their families. We ask that a special blessing be on those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. We honor them and cherish their lost loved ones and render our heart-felt "thanksgiving."
We also remember those affected by the destruction of natural disasters. Their tremendous determination to recover their life exemplifies the American spirit, and we are grateful for those across our Nation who answered the cries of their neighbors in need and provided them with food, shelter, and a helping hand. We ask for continued strength and perseverance as we unite to rebuild these communities and return hope to our neighbors and friends.
We give thanks that we live in a country where we have open and free elections, where freedom reigns, justice prevails, neighborliness resides, and hope prospers. We recognize that the American way of life is cherished because of our individual freedoms secured by virtue of our Bill of Rights and the entirety of the America Constitution.
Over a half century ago, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed Thanksgiving as a time when Americans should celebrate "the plentiful yield of our soil...the beauty of our land...the preservation of those ideals of liberty and justice that forms the basis of our national life." Now, and always, we are reminded of Eisenhower's hopeful words which point to our collective obligation to defend the enduring principles of freedom that forms the foundation of our Republic. And the opportunity and the freedom to come together as a people, to join our hands as neighbors, and to speak in one voice our "thanks living" in THANKSGIVING...that is a cherished gift and valued treasure never to be taken for granted! That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.