Counting our blessings today

Almost always, it sometimes seems, we Americans find ourselves striving to overcome some sort of challenge. Too often it is war, bringing with it terrible loss and heartache. Sometimes it is social change. On a fairly regular basis, it is the scourge of setbacks in our economy.

It certainly is true that millions of our fellow Americans suffer in varying degrees during times of trouble. But today, Thanksgiving Day, we pause to remind ourselves of the wonderful bounty that has been granted us as a nation – as well as the vast majority of us as residents of it.

President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation established the first Thanksgiving observed throughout the United States. In that document, issued during the very darkest days of our existence as a nation, Lincoln reminded his fellow Americans of our many blessings. And, he noted, “these bounties … are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.”

Lincoln could not possibly have foreseen what the nation he saved would become. He could not have imagined the technology we take for granted. He did, however, anticipate an ever-increasing quality of life for all people, with Americans in the lead.

That has come to pass. Even the poorest of Americans are more secure in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than billions of our neighbors elsewhere in the world. Most of us, in fact, enjoy trappings of life that would be considered luxuries in many other countries.

But our material well-being is far from the only blessing bestowed upon us.

We Americans are dedicated to a way of governance that, for all its flaws, stresses individual liberty and the rule of law. We settle our differences at the ballot box.

And while we often disagree about political, economic and social issues, we are reminded in times of need, including disaster, that those with whom we have disputes today rush to help us when the chips are down. That is simply who we Americans are.

We do indeed take all this for granted, as Lincoln understood. And that sometimes jeopardizes our well-being and our security.

But he was right. It behooves us to remember that we may indeed have built this nation – but that the foundation was laid by God, the grantor of all blessings.

So today, we celebrate and we give thanks, from our hearts.

Happy Thanksgiving.