I could say family, friends, good health, and a great life and that would all be true. I am thankful for all of those things, but that doesn’t tell the entire story, does it? I am thankful for so much more than that. I am very thankful to live in the United States, a country built on freedoms, the rule of law, and the representation of the people. While Thanksgiving is an American holiday now, it began in 1621, before the United States even existed, between two totally different groups of people. Back then, they celebrated a good harvest after a very harsh winter. Now we seem to celebrate football, shopping, and eating too much.
We live in a country where we have the freedom to do any job that we are capable of doing, any job that we are capable of learning, coupled with the ambition to get that learning. I have the freedom to say what I want about the government, police, courts, and military, without threat of retaliation, regardless of how brilliant, foolish, ignorant or stupid it might be or I might look. I have the freedom to believe in any religion I want or to believe in no religion, for that matter. I have the freedom to live anywhere, wear anything, and eat anything that I can afford. There are nations today where your life is threatened daily, where you must have permission to live in certain areas, where you must believe in one single religion, where you must wear certain clothing or eat certain foods or act certain ways in public. That is not freedom and is unacceptable here in the U.S.
Yes, we have the freedom to do what we want but with that freedom comes a responsibility to the nation that we have built around that concept. We have the responsibility to protect those freedoms we cherish so that we do not lose those freedoms. If I want to buy a car, for instance, it is my responsibility to provide insurance for that car and any damage I may do. If I want to fly to another place, it is my responsibility to make sure that I do not bring anything dangerous on the plane. If I want to smoke, drink, or do drugs, it is my responsibility to have the proper insurance and to pay a higher premium than those who do not want that kind of lifestyle. If I want to walk through Central Park in NYC at midnight, it is my responsibility to take the consequences of that walk. And if I don’t like a potential new law, whether it be federal, state, county or local, it is my responsibility to tell my representatives how I feel.
This Thanksgiving, while you are enjoying the time off from work, the food, the shopping, the festivities, and the football, take time to really be thankful for family, friends, your health and your life, but also be thankful for your government. Think about what you are grateful for, what you stand for, what you will accept and what you won’t. Then let your voice be heard.
Don’t just sit back and hope that someone else will take the initiative. You have the responsibility to do that for yourself. Don’t take anything for granted just because someone you like or admire has either recommended it or condemned it. Do your own research on the issues. Make your own decisions. Come to your own conclusions. Yes, it is work and we are all busy people but, this is a responsibility that we not only need to take seriously, this is a responsibility that we need to teach our children. If our Founding Fathers had not taken their responsibility for the direction of this country, we would be a totally different nation today than what we are. They deliberated long and hard to come up with the best Constitution and Bill of Rights they could and still retain the freedoms they sought. If we don’t pass on this responsibility to our children, what kind of a country will we be in another 200 years?
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I am thankful to have you as friends and family!
A summary of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution:
- Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
- Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well-regulated militia
- No quartering of soldiers
- Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures
- Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy
- Rights of accused persons, such as the right to a speedy and public trial
- Right of trial by jury in civil cases
- Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments
- Other rights of the people
- The powers that are reserved to the states