11/26/08 — Thankful, really: We might argue, disagree and get mad, but we are Americans

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Thankful, really: We might argue, disagree and get mad, but we are Americans

Today is a holiday that is uniquely our own.

We celebrate the day when pilgrims from across the sea -- and a few ne'er-do-wells as well -- found the shores of a new country, a new place for a new start.

Thanksgiving is not just about being reminded of all the reasons to remember what is important in life -- friends, family, a home, a job.

It is not just about turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie.

This holiday is about remembering the first baby steps of a new country -- and the men, women and children who gathered up their gumption and carved out their own place in a strange new world.

It is about bravery. It is about adventure. It is about taking a chance.

It is, in essence, about our first few steps as Americans.

We have had a rough few months.

The election is over, but the economic crisis isn't quite. We are waiting for a new president to take office, and wondering what kind of changes his administration will bring. Some of us are approaching that leadership change with elation, while others await Jan. 20 with some trepidation.

We are fighting a war some people aren't sure about, while others worry that some might have forgotten the price that has been paid for our freedom and the responsibility of protecting it.

We wonder about our place in the world -- our responsibility. We consider just how much we owe to others and whether we should stand for those who cannot stand for themselves or if it is time to turn away.

We know we have enemies -- and are still trying to figure out what to do about them, while keeping in mind that we must set an example and lead with dignity and strength. Yet, we will act while never, ever forgetting the 3,000-plus people we lost one fateful morning in 2001.

We argue. We fight. And sometimes, we take for granted the very rights that allow us to speak our minds and to take a stand. We forget our flag is more than stars, stripes and cloth -- that it represents lives lost in its defense.

We remember the story of our early colonial government and the men who risked their lives to challenge a crown, yet sometimes it is merely a chapter in a history book.

We teach our children about a small gathering of pilgrims who landed on the shores of a strange land and went about the business of turning it into their adopted home. Yet, sometimes we don't really realize just how brave and scared they must have been and how much of them is still a part of us.

But today, of all days, we should remember the stock from which we came -- whether from that group of original pioneers or from the legions of immigrants who took a chance on a new life in a new world.

We will continue to be conflicted about who we are and where we are going because we are of that same ilk -- adventurers, freedom fighters and pilgrims determined to live our lives by principle, even if we falter sometimes.

We should be proud today of how far we have come -- and that we realize that there is still work to do. We should embrace our differences, while never forgetting the bonds that unite us.

Because in the end, this is our country -- one that generations have fought to protect and that we are entrusted with caring for, in trust, for future generations.

We should be thankful to be Americans.

Published in Editorials on November 26, 2008 9:31 PM