It is fitting that this month includes two thanksgivings — the traditional family gathering day to remember those brave, hardy souls who thumbed their noses at a powerful monarchy and came to a new, unknown world to pursue the freedoms they felt should be the inalienable rights of all people, and a second day of deep, heartfelt gratitude to all veterans, past and present, and their families, for their sacrifices over two centuries-plus in defending those freedoms.
We cannot remotely imagine, today, in our cosseted lives in this nation of unparalleled abundance and comforts, the hardships our pilgrim forefathers faced as they set about building homes, churches, communities, government, in a strange land. Their determination, endurance, and perseverance in meeting those challenges are an everlasting tribute to man’s indomitable spirit and will.
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Nor can we remotely relate to the privation, suffering, and misery of those who fought in the wars and conflicts in which this country has engaged — from the Civil War, with hundreds of thousands of deaths, a great many of which involved enormous pain and suffering due to infection and primitive medical treatment, to the two great World Wars that took more hundreds of thousands of lives, Korea and Vietnam, with their harsh conditions and enemies’ barbarism, to the seemingly never-ending Mideast battles against foes whose cultures and beliefs are little understood and whose sadistic cruelty is stomach-turning.
All those American men and women who, over the decades, have stepped up and said, “I will go. I will, if need be, give my life to defend the principles and honor on which this country was founded,” all the families whose loved ones never came home, or were returned grievously wounded in body and/or mind — how can we not honor them, give thanks for what they have done for us, for what they have given us, for all they have helped to make possible?
Those who rail and snipe and moan about the faults and shortcomings, real or perceived, of this greatest country in the history of the world, should spend time watching news footage of what life is like for the millions of innocent men, women, and children in war-torn, repressed countries around the globe to see just how incredibly fortunate they are to be here and not there.
May you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving, remembering with gratitude all whose sacrifices have made possible the freedoms we so often take for granted.