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Our View: Thanksgiving

A national holiday devoted to gratitude is fitting

That the United States has a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks for all that we enjoy speaks well of us a people. That we have apparently had this notion from the start is even more telling. People who understand that they have been blessed are more likely to make better choices. And for that we are doubly blessed.

We are all aware that we have not, as a nation, always made good choices and the examples need not be repeated here. What we might want to think of at this time of year is how thankful we should be of the good choices that have been made over time, by us, for us or in our names.

For many Americans, that starts with the decision by some ancestor simply to come to this country. Whether that was a happy thing at the time is, by now and for us, largely irrelevant. That the grandparents or great-great grandparents, or whoever, might have been fleeing oppression or poverty or war may make for a good family story, but really does not mean much in the context of a happy dinner on a beautiful day in Southwest Colorado.

What does have meaning is that somebody, somewhere at sometime made all this possible. And for that we should truly be thankful.

Exactly who that might be will of course vary from family to family. But in some fashion, we must all credit some common antecedents. It was Abraham Lincoln, after all, who made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. And we all know some version of the story of the Pilgrims and what we have been taught was the first Thanksgiving.

With that, we should also remember that part of what made this nation possible were the Native Americans who taught those English wanderers how to survive in what became Massachusetts. Not all of those to whom we owe thanks are own ancestors.

Those English, whom we have called Pilgrims, had crossed the North Atlantic in a craft, the Mayflower, most of us today would barely recognize as a boat. Their journey had taken 66 days – think about that for a minute – and had cost the lives of about half their company.

Those who survived clearly had a lot to be thankful for. And regardless of how much of the Pilgrims’ story that has been handed down to us is factual, their legacy is clear. Moreover, it has been reaffirmed by generation after generation of people who followed their example and sought a new life in the New World – almost all of whom have bequeathed us good reason to be thankful.

It is the nature of news to report what is out of the ordinary or unusual. But once in a while it is also important to consider what has become the norm. And in this country, today, what is ordinary is, by historical standards, simply outstanding.

Most Americans have good reason to give thanks this Thanksgiving Day. Let’s hope we do just that.