November 24, 2009

Misfortune can come into all of our lives at any time, yet we Americans have so much for which to be thankful that we set aside a day each year to celebrate our good fortune in the company of family and friends.

No matter what else is happening in our lives, we Americans go to extraordinary lengths each Thanksgiving to share turkey and tradition with people who are important to us. This holiday is so much a part of our tradition that we cannot abide the thought of anyone not having the means to join in the celebration. Those of us who are able to do so donate turkeys and other fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the hope that no one is left out. Many make volunteering at a soup kitchen or other community holiday dinner part of their personal Thanksgiving tradition.

That is as it should be.

I believe that we Americans need Thanksgiving to remind us of how very, very lucky we are. We are fortunate to live in a free country. We have the right to elect our government leaders. We have the right to worship, or not, as we choose. We have the right to freely express our opinions about our government, our personal politics, our individual religious beliefs, and any other issue that matters to us. Millions of people not fortunate enough to have been born citizens of our country risk everything to come here.

We Americans always have reason to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year, we should again be especially thankful for the ongoing sacrifices of our troops who will be far from home fighting the war on terror instead of sharing a turkey dinner with their families and friends. Earlier this month, we bid farewell to 700 troops representing the largest single deployment of Connecticut Guard members since the Korean War. The rights and freedom we hold dear as Americans means so much to them that they are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect those of us who will be celebrating Thanksgiving in safety. Not only should we be grateful to these soldiers, but also to those they left behind. If you know someone whose husband, wife, son, daughter, grandchild or friend is serving our country far from home this Thanksgiving, please remember to thank them.

On a personal level, Marcy and I will give thanks, as we do every year, for the precious gifts of our son, Aidan, and daughter, Deana, who we adopted as infants from South Korea. We will express our gratitude for our lives as citizens of the United States and residents of the beautiful state of Connecticut. We will be thankful for our family members and friends who bring such joy into our lives.
Undoubtedly, misfortune will come into our lives from time to time, as it does to everyone’s life. Nevertheless, there is always much to be grateful for including our freedom, our rights, our good fortune to be citizens of the United States – and for the brave men and women who sacrifice their own safety and comfort to protect us.

I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!