We Americans have so very much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving Day.
It is true that many of our neighbors are undergoing great trials and tribulations. Approximately one in 10 people who want to work do not have jobs. Many of those who do are suffering the effects of a recession. Tens of thousands of our very best men and women remain locked in conflict overseas. We worry about illness, in particular the "swine flu."
Yet with all that, giving thanks for our many blessings is appropriate today, and every day.
We continue to live in a nation that is the envy of most other people on our planet. The combination of prosperity, liberty and security that we enjoy is unmatched anywhere. We repeat: No nation provides the ingredients for happiness that are present in such quality and quantity available to Americans.
In part that is because of the wonderful land in which we live. It is both beautiful and bountiful.
But our nation is great and good because of its people, too. Our ancestors carved both freedom and freedom from want from the continent before turning it over to us. They made enormous sacrifices to safeguard the nation they handed down to us.
In some ways we have treated our legacy wisely. In other ways we have erred - but the mistakes have been ours as a people. In the United States, power is held only by those who can win the confidence of the electorate.
Here in our area, our blessings stem in large measure from our neighbors. We live among hard-working, compassionate people who seem always eager to lend a helping hand when one is needed. Even the poor in our area would be the envy of billions of people in other lands.
Again, it is true that we, both in this area and as a nation, face severe trials. But the persistence, ingenuity, faith and work ethic of our neighbors fills us with confidence that our best days lie ahead.
Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln, during the dark days of the Civil War - a time worse in many ways than any era of our history. Lincoln understood that even then, Americans had much for which to be thankful - and an obligation to express our gratitude for the "ever watchful providence of Almighty God."
Today, once again, we gather with family and friends to do what Lincoln recommended.