For me, every day is a thanks-giving day.
Nobody I’ve ever known has been more abundantly and consistently blessed. I can’t figure out why I, of all people, have been given so much — an amazing wife, a terrific healthy family, a successful career doing what I most love, more and better friends than I deserve, and freedoms and opportunities that most individuals usually only dream of.
Why, out of the millions around me, have I been so singularly blessed?
I ponder it every day.
Maybe — I really hope — there are many others who feel the same way, who feel they have been blessed beyond any expectation or merit, who wonder why. But they’re not writing this; I am. So I press on, in this season we’ve called Thanksgiving for so long now.
I’m thankful, more than I can express, for my high school sweetheart, Shirley Foley, who has so far exceeded anything I could have foreseen or even hoped for — in character, loyalty, abilities, loving nurture and companionship, in Godly wisdom and example for our kids, grandkids, so many friends . . . and her husband.
I’m deeply grateful for four grown women, beautiful and dutiful and talented, like their Mama, who I first knew as little angelic baby girls, who early called me “Daddy.” And for 15 — count ’em, 15 — grandkids of all denominations, each intelligent and whole and attractive and motivated, ambitious and upwardly mobile, but thoroughly grounded in faith and morality.
Of course, I owe so much to the loving, self sacrificial, perceptive and deeply principled parents who gave my brother and two sisters and me the most precious of gifts — example.
And on it goes, this list of personal blessings, seeming miracles of serendipity, coincidence, happenstance, kindness of strangers, lucky timing — over and over — producing for me the luxuries of education, musical opportunity, songs from almost everywhere, open doors to movies and writing and public service and leadership, athletic ability and robust health and Walter Mitty moments in sports endeavors with pros — a list so improbable, so extravagant, so unfairly excessive as to seem pure fiction.
But it’s true. It’s real. It’s actually happened, all those things and so much more. How can I help but be amazed — and thankful?
Still, over and beyond all that, so personal to me, there are much larger things that I share with all my fellow Americans, and for which we should all give deep, profound, and earnest thanks.
Yes, the liberties and freedoms we share (and too many take for granted, shamefully), purchased with blood and sacrifice and desperate hope and conviction — blessings others provided but never lived to fully enjoy. It’s still going on today, while many of our very finest young people have volunteered to put all their hopes and ambitions and futures on hold to face deadly enemies on their soil, in their streets instead of ours. And almost unbelievably, they also face the reality that many of the countrymen they’re sacrificing to protect take to the airwaves and public forums to denounce what they’re doing!
I was thrilled the other day, talking with a major general about the rate of volunteerism I’d heard was declining. He corrected me, saying that only 30 percent or so of eligible young Americans can actually qualify for induction in the military, because of drug usage or obesity or lack of education or physical problems — but that the result is that the volunteer army we have is made up of “the cream of the crop,” the best of the best of American youth!
And when I asked in amazement “Why? What makes these outstanding young people want to take such a dangerous chance, when they don’t have to?” he answered quietly, but proudly, “They love their country.”
In this cynical, media-poisoned, insipid, “make love, not war,” “He’s not my President” bumper sticker culture? “They love their country?” That’s it?
How do we thank our young for that?
But there are so many other things happening right around us that should make us thankful, even excited about our prospects. For one, the statistics show that Americans are rejecting out of hand the expensive, biased, propaganda “movies” designed in today’s Hollywood to undermine, vilify, and denigrate our leaders and our military objectives, and even our fine young soldiers themselves.
Highly promoted, star driven films — “In the Valley of Elah,” “Rendition,” “No End in Sight,” “Lions for Lambs,” and the like — have not only faltered at the box office, they’ll likely never recoup their misguided production costs.
You haven’t seen them? Good! And let’s hope and pray the upcoming Brian DePalma-directed, Mark Cuban-financed, scandal piece “Redacted” — about two American soldiers raping a 14-year old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family — will die before it infects and corrupts our country’s image any further. What motivates these sordid projects? It’s sure not thanks giving.
And though there are so many other things to be thankful for, I’ll list just two more. One is the electric news that two separate, independent research teams of scientists, in Japan and America, have produced studies showing that human skin cells have been reprogrammed so that they can behave like highly coveted embryonic stem cells, offering the promise of replacement tissues to treat ailments like diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and brain impairment!
If all continues as expected, scientists can give up the notion of creating embryos (little babies) for the purpose of destroying them to get the embryonic cells. Who do we thank for this?
Exactly. In this “Thanksgiving season,” Who is it we’re thanking?
That’s the thing I’m most grateful for. I know, and most Americans still know, Who to thank. Like Tevya in “Fiddler on the Roof,” we can hardly break stride in our busy, blessed lives, but we still look up and breathe an honest, heartfelt “Thank You.”
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