Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Give Thanks

Gary L. Bauer
Campaign for Working Families

Tomorrow the nation will pause as we spend time with friends and family in a day of thanksgiving for the tremendous blessings of this land. Some years, when things are going well and life glides along smoothly, celebrating is easy. But this year thanksgiving may be tough. Our country faces difficult times, economically and politically, and we are facing tremendous threats to our national security.

But giving thanks is especially important in tough times. During times of instability and peril, our minds and hearts are focused more sharply on the important things in life, the things that truly matter -- faith, family and freedom.

I love this uniquely American holiday. Thanksgiving traces its origins back to the Pilgrims -- those hardy pioneers who arrived on the shores of North America and, against all odds, carved a nation out of the wilderness. They came to the New World not seeking fortune, but in search of freedom, and, more specifically, the freedom to worship God as they wished.

Testifying to the strong religious foundation of this country, thanking God for His blessings was a routine experience in our early years. The first official National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress on November 1, 1777 in celebration of the victory against the British at the Battle of Saratoga. In 1941, as America confronted a world at war, Congress voted to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation as president, Ronald Reagan wrote:

"America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America's heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. …
"As we celebrate Thanksgiving … we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance "Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.
In spite of the challenges we face today, I believe all of us can be thankful to be Americans. We are the descendants of the patriots who declared that "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

As Carol and I reflect on what we are thankful for, we thank God first for His gift of three wonderful children, two incredible sons-in-law, and four grandchildren.

We are especially thankful for the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and for the sacrifices of their families. We are grateful that America still produces patriots who are willing to "give up their todays for our tomorrows."

And we are so very thankful for each of you. Our partnership has created bonds deeper and closer than we ever expected and blessings far beyond what we ever can express. We wish for you and your family all of God's blessings at this special time of year. And we thank you for the continued friendship and support that make possible my work in defense of our values.