Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thankfulness: Freedom

Part three in my short Thanksgiving series about thankfulness.

This time of the year, it can be very easy to become distracted by food, family, shopping, the start of the Christmas season, football: all of the things that we as Americans have come to enjoy, appreciate, and [yes] take for granted. I submit to you: we often fail, at this time of year, to think about the one thing that we, as Americans -- citizens of the greatest nation on Earth -- take for granted more than any other. The one thing without which we would be unable to truly enjoy all of the others.


We've all been there, we've all done that. We have all, at one time or another, become so caught up in the hectic rush of the holiday season that we forget to be thankful for why we are able to celebrate such things as just being thankful.

We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving. Pilgrims. Indians. Corn. Squanto. You know the story. The whole bountiful harvest thing. Right?

Maybe not.

Did you know that early Thanksgiving celebrations involved not only feasts and festivals, but ships, and massacres? The first Thanksgiving proclamation, issued on December 4, 1619 at Jamestown [Virginia], read as follows:
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god."

It actually had nothing to do with food, or the harvest, or friendship between Pilgrims and Indians. That didn't come until 1621 in Massachusetts. But you didn't come here for a history lesson. You can go to Wikipedia for that.

My point is this: early settlers to America were thankful for their freedom to colonize in the New World; for their safe guidance by ship over mysterious and often unchartered waters; and yes, for bountiful harvests and friendship with the Native Americans of the time.

Tomorrow, when you sit down for your Thanksgiving dinner (which I hope you will have the good fortune to do), for what will you be thankful?

I ask you to remember one thing. It is only for the sake of freedom that you are able to sit down in such a way and enjoy such an incredible feast with loved ones gathered all around you. And freedom does not come without a price. And regardless of what your political leanings might be, or your opinion about the current Presidential administration, or our current activities in the Middle East, please take a moment to remember that the same people who fought and earned the freedom you now deserve; the same people who throughout history have fought to defend the freedom we now so easily take for granted may not be home with their loved ones on Thanksgiving day. Because, as a whole, they are so thankful for their freedom that they are willing to die for it!

You might argue that they aren't currently fighting for your freedom or their freedom, but for some other reason or cause. I have only two things to say to that mindless argument:
  1. They were not forced to join the uniformed services, they did voluntarily so because they love their country and what their country stands for so much that they have answered a call to go wherever, whenever, to defend both their country and that cause -- even if that defense might sometimes appear [and rightfully so] to be vengeance.
  2. It is inarguable that the people of Iraq under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein were never free, and any time freedom is threatened anywhere, freedom is threatened everywhere!

So, this Thanksgiving, as on every day of my life, I thank God that I have been blessed to live in the greatest, strongest, free-est country on Earth, and I thank each and every member of our uniformed services throughout history that has served to make and keep that possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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