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A 2008 Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday.

It originated in an earlier time when humble people knew how blessed they were. Some of them had escaped countries ruled by cruel dictator kings. Some of them fled oppressive regimes that denied them basic human freedoms. Some were economic refugees who came to America for its opportunities. Later generations understood how fortunate they were to be born an American. They all realized that they were far better off in America than they would have been in their native lands.

That was America of centuries past. America of 2008 is a cold and distant shell of that time. Our children are now taught, not to honor the explorers, pilgrims and pioneers, but to curse them and call them the worst of names. Many historians teach that they were plunderers, murderers, rapists, thieves and despots. They are said to be brutish, wiping out innocent civilizations, destroying cultures, contaminating the pristine wilderness, introducing disease and desecrating native shrines all in the name of greed.

We should remember that the hostility of the elite revisionists of today represent a only a point of view—an OPINION—if you will. They are entitled to their own opinion, but they are not entitled to their own truth. My opinion is just as valid as theirs, and while I can discuss it, I do not have to discard it. I strongly believe that the circumstances which forced the pilgrims to these shores legitimized their arrival. First, they came because they could no longer abide the denial of their freedom to practice their religion. Second, they were products of the seventeenth century and were guided by the protocols and strategies of their day. They cannot be judged by the standards of the twenty-first century. Third, they came in peace, seeking not to overthrow their opponents by force but to make conciliatory gestures and agreements with them. It is true that the passage of history recounts many mistakes, travesties of justice and atrocities committed. In my opinion, however, the founding ideals of a free people will never be sullied by their subsequent sins.

And so, on that basis I will continue to celebrate Thanksgiving and purposely grow my gratitude with each passing day. Wading through the negativity about this country that inundates me makes it difficult, and sometimes I find myself second-guessing what I believe. At the end of the day though, I must say that I am glad and proud to be an American. I am thankful for many things.

I can worship God as I see fit, a bible to read and a church to attend.

I have the right to speak, write and broadcast my opinions.

I can vote for whatever and whomever I choose.

I have economic freedom and I can spend my money however I choose, I can spread a plenteous table for my family, and I appreciate the clothes on my back and the roof over my head.

I am thankful for the red, white and blue flag that symbolizes the virtues of the United States of America; white signifies purity and innocence; red, hardiness and valor; and blue, vigilance, perseverance and justice.

I am thankful for the constitution that places strict limits upon necessary government so it will always preserve my liberty and never be a threat to me.

I am thankful that I can defend my life and my family with deadly force if necessary. Without that, I would be at the mercy of criminals or a rogue government.

I am thankful for the freedom-loving people in this great nation who fight with me to sustain our way of life and the ideals by which we live.

Does the exercise of any of these freedoms and rights infringe upon any of my fellow citizens? While some may say it does, it is no more than their free exercise of freedom restricts mine. If each one of us leaves the rest of us alone to practice our liberty, we can all co-exist. It is when one group arises and claims preeminence and the right to force their beliefs and opinions on the rest that we all lose in the long run.

If anyone does not like or believe what I do, they do not have to associate with me. If I do not like or believe what they do, I do not have to associate with them. Yet, both of us are in the same country, ruled by laws and governed by elected officials. The boundaries between the two of us, then, must be defined and respected. If we do not respect those boundaries, civil war ensues and we are both in trouble. I am thankful that, to this point, I am able to live my life giving and getting the respect I desire for those lines.

Which of these freedoms can I live without? Which one would I sacrifice if I had to? None of them. Moreover, I should not be expected to give any of them up. They are unalienable rights granted to me by my Creator. I have a right to life, to enjoy liberty and to pursue happiness as I wish. I am thankful for this American dream.

Yes, I am thankful to be an American. Millions of people all over the world want to come here. People pour through our porous borders illegally, risking life and limb, because they want to be here so badly. Others immigrate legally, disdaining their old way of life and their native lands because they see this free land as their ultimate destination in this world. We don’t ask them to come. We don’t herd them up and subjugate them to values and ideals foreign to them. They just come and they are happy.

On the other hand, many have asked us to come to their countries. When they have been threatened by tyrants, when they have been attacked by armies and when they have been ravaged by natural disasters, they have asked us to come and help them. And we have gone, over and over again. We have shared our wealth, our abundance, our knowledge and our blood. Some say we went because we were greedy of their lands and resources. Some say we had imperialistic designs. Those are false, trumped up charges made by twisted minds. The only land we have asked for on foreign soil was enough to bury our dead.

America has made many people rich, many people famous, and untold millions free. We only ask that those who come here continue to respect and love the freedom that they have the moment they put foot on our land. America’s critics have no real cause to speak. Place the supposed crimes of this nation against those of all others in history, and you will find few, if any, who have done as much good for the world as has this country. Chronicle our mistakes if you wish, but judge us on a fair scale. Future historians will look back and say that this country made an unparalleled difference on this planet between good and evil. This is a good nation.

My heart bursts with gratitude. Thank God for America.

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