GIVING THANKS FOR THE STRENGTH OF THE AMERICAN SPIRIT
November 18, 2005
Americans will soon gather with their families to reflect and cherish the freedoms that we enjoy as a country. This week and throughout our nation's history, Thanksgiving has been a time for people to share good-will with their fellow woman and man, and look towards the future with optimism and hope.
In 1621 in New England, the Pilgrims gave thanks even though a terrible winter had claimed more than half of their fellow settlers. Along with local Native Americans, they gathered to share in the harvest and celebrate their new life in a new land. Similarly, in the winter of 1777, George Washington and the Continental Army - having just suffered great loss - stopped near Valley Forge to give thanks. And there, on the brink of disaster, they found the hope they needed to persevere.
Likewise, this year has also been unquestionably difficult. In the past twelve months, we have witnessed the vast destruction of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados and tsunamis; terrorist attacks across the globe; ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq; and the unprecedented loss of life at home and abroad. Each day, Americans continue to be challenged to find hope amidst the devastation. These events have rightly replaced our once limited, local view with a new sense of national spirit and shared purpose.
Heroes emerged within each and every one of us as Americans felt the need to "do something" after each of these events. Some donated their time and service; many others gave food, clothing, blood or money. What we did, however, is not the issue. Rather, it was the fact that we felt the need to help and acted upon it. Despite the overwhelming sadness that accompanied each event, we rose to the task - growing closer as a country and a world.
Here at home, millions of Americans continue to volunteer their service for the nation beyond the limited scope of extraordinary events. Additionally, thousands of Americans are proudly serving overseas in the armed forces where they are defending freedom and working towards global peace. Whether it is supporting our troops, raising money to aid the people of the Gulf Coast, or just looking out for our neighbors and our community, America's spirit is shining through. With every tragic event, our spirit is more resilient and we, as a nation, come together stronger.
Thus, as we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends, we should take a moment to be mindful on the many blessings we enjoy, and reflect on those who are less fortunate than us during this celebration. We should take time to remember those we have lost and new heroes discovered - both everyday citizens in our communities who were called upon to do extraordinary things and our dedicated servicemen and women, who are unwavering in their fight for freedom. Even in the face of future adversity, the strength of the American spirit will shine bright and, thus we, as a great nation, truly have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.