As we enter the holiday season, I find myself reflecting on the many blessings for which I am thankful. I give thanks for the love and support of my family, the many joys of the season, for the opportunity to work with the wonderful members of Team Little Rock and for the freedoms we Americans enjoy.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a declaration that a day of “Thanksgiving” would be held on the last Thursday of November. At the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart ... In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict ... Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship ... and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving ... And I recommend to them that (they also) commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable ... strife in which we are unavoidably engaged ...”
My time in the Air Force has given me many opportunities to travel to other countries and to explore other cultures. I can say truthfully, that of all the countries I have seen, none holds the promise and opportunity of our great nation. Our nation was founded on the sanctity of individual rights and the freedom to pursue our goals, aspirations and desires. What a precious gift with whichto be presented. I find myself humbled and thankful for the incredible foresight and strength of purpose our forebears demonstrated during the fledgling days of our country. I am equally humbled by the dedication and sacrifice I see freely given every day by family, in the community, on base and throughout the world as Americans strive to continue to improve our nation and assist others around the globe.
I hope you find time this holiday season to relax and enjoy good company, good memories and good food with those you love. I am keenly aware that many families have members serving in other parts of the country and overseas who will not be able to gather with them this year. It is because of their service we are able to enjoy the holidays as we do. To all those families we owe special thanks. Freedom is not free. America is the “land of the free” because of the brave.
Thank you for all you do and God bless.