How hard it must be for many to give thanks as the nation celebrates yet another Thanksgiving.
How do you find it in your heart to offer thanks if you’re one of the thousands whose homes and businesses, and even towns, have been destroyed in the wildfires that have ravaged California, claiming lives and uprooting families in scenes straight from Hell itself?
Where in your heart, if you’re among the thousands who’ve lost a husband, wife, son, daughter, or other loved one in military service in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, or any of the other far-flung outposts where Americans defend the cause of freedom, do you find room for thanks?
In what depths of your soul do you evoke even a scintilla of thankfulness if a family member, a loved one, a friend, or God help us a child, was killed in one of the 307 mass shootings that had taken place in this country as of Nov. 7 — almost one for every day of this year? Three hundred and twenty-eight people robbed of their futures, families devastated, in senseless acts of violence. Twelve hundred and fifty-one more injured, facing months or years of pain and mental agony.
With what strength of character and will do you give thanks in the aftermath of the hate that slaughtered members of your church or synagogue simply because of your ethnic or religious heritage?
If you’re one of the thousands, helpless in the face of nature’s fury, as homes and crops and swaths of cities were blown away and washed away in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, if you’re one of the families in which lives were lost in these disasters, where do you reach in and dredge up gratitude?
So many families with so many reasons not to be thankful — law enforcement and first responders killed in the line of duty, thousands of accident victims on the highways and elsewhere, so many tragedies, so many losses, so many tearful goodbyes.
And yet, in the midst of all these losses, however grievous, there are survivors who will gather in emergency shelters, food kitchens, churches, synagogues, with friends or those they don’t even know, and give thanks for the blessings of memory, for the joys they’ve known in the years and decades with loved ones now tragically gone, grateful for being spared to rebuild homes and businesses, for the kindnesses and hard work and gifts of compassionate strangers.
Some four centuries after that first Thanksgiving, in a nation more divided than ever, the strength, resolve, and faith that have been the foundation of this America through the perils of wars, natural disasters, unspeakable acts of terror, remain innate in the character of its people.
And so, despite travail and obstacles, we give thanks that those principles imbued in those early settlers live still in this greatest country on earth.