It is true today that many of our neighbors and friends are undergoing great trials and tribulations. Unemployment rates remain too high, and many are working two jobs to make ends meet. Tens of thousands of our very best men and women remain locked in military conflicts overseas. Political gridlock continues.
Yet with all that, giving thanks for our many blessings is appropriate today, and every day.
We continue to live in a nation that is the envy of most other people on our planet. The combination of prosperity, liberty and security that we enjoy is unmatched anywhere. We repeat: No nation provides the ingredients for happiness that are present in such quality and quantity available to Americans.
In part that is because of the wonderful land in which we live. It is both beautiful and bountiful. But our nation is great and good because of its people, too. Our ancestors carved both freedom and freedom from want from the continent before turning it over to us. They made enormous sacrifices to safeguard the nation they handed down to us. In some ways we have treated our legacy wisely. In other ways we have erred – but the mistakes have been ours as a people. In the United States, power is held only by those who can win the confidence of the electorate.
In North Dakota, our blessings stem in large measure from our neighbors. We live among hard-working, compassionate people who seem always eager to lend a helping hand when one is needed.
Again, it is true that we, as a nation, face severe trials. But the persistence, ingenuity, faith and work ethic of our neighbors fills us with confidence that our best days lie ahead.
Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln, during the dark days of the Civil War – a time worse in many ways than any era of our history. Lincoln understood that even then, Americans had much for which to be thankful – and an obligation to express our gratitude for the “ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
Today, we gather with family and friends to do what Lincoln recommended.