Americans this week celebrated Thanksgiving at homes around the country. Whether it was a time to visit with family you only see once a year or a chance to get together with old friends, this holiday is truly a time to give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
Too often our busy schedules seem to take control of everything that we do. We might not talk to our children as often as we want, or we pass by without greeting our neighbors working in the front yard. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what means the most to us, and to give thanks for all that we have.
For all Americans, Thanksgiving should also be a day to say thank you to the brave men and women serving in our armed forces to protect the freedoms and rights we hold so dear. Like the Pilgrims fighting for their religious freedoms more than three centuries ago, today's soldiers are advancing liberty around the world.
Even though many 5th District residents are experiencing tough times, there is no adversity that we cannot overcome with hard work and the strength of the American spirit. In the first presidential Thanksgiving proclamation, Abraham Lincoln in 1863 wrote, "In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict."
Even in the middle of the greatest crisis our country has ever seen, President Lincoln was able to see the inherent goodness of our nation. The same strength holds true today. With our troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time a financial crisis tests our economy, America marches on. Our schools remain open, roads are being built, and we just completed an historic national election. These are things that we often take for granted, but are rights and freedoms that are denied to billions of people around the world.
So when I sat down for Thanksgiving dinner with my family this week, I said a silent prayer for our troops who won't be home this year, as well as a word of thanks for our nation. We have much to celebrate, and much still to work on this year, but together we can continue to make America the greatest and freest nation on earth.