This is Thanksgiving week and thousands of expressions of gratitude have been delivered before, during and after the traditional holiday gatherings.
Family, friends, all manner of loved ones, health : these are generally the main items of focus at Thanksgiving-time.
But there is one salient gift that many tend to overlook. That would be, borrowing from a noted popular song, "Born in the U.S.A."
Consider, for just a moment, how blessed you have been because of the fact you were born and allowed to live and savor life as an American. Consider if you had been put upon this earth in some other location, such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, even parts of Europe. What would your prospects have been to reach the stage you currently enjoy and how much more painful and demanding would it have been to get this far had you not been striving in the U.S.?
Granted, our nation and its system faces many challenges, seemingly increasing by the day. Still, who has it better, and why, if we are as depraved and bereft of humanity as some charge, are so many millions of people eager, even dying, to get past our borders and become part of our social, economic and governmental fabric?
Consider the millions who in the past were able to come here and succeed after terrible start-ups elsewhere. Then consider what a head start those of us born in America got on life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our nation has benefited so much from people who immigrated to this country but it has been particularly generous to its natives.
There was recent talk about reinstating a military draft. The reactions of many young people were shocking. Not so much that they opposed conscription, which many of us do, but that they saw no reason whatever to, ever, shoulder arms on behalf of their nation. Their demeanor showed they are illiterate about what Americans have, how fortunate we are to be that way and how we got to this stage. Suppose someone should suggest universal military service - no draft, just a program in which everyone is expected to take part.
Universal military training? This could do wonders for our national morale, our sense of purpose and our relationships with fellow citizens. As they do in many other countries, males and females at age 18 would enter a year of active service of some nature (conscientious objection would be one avenue for some), then spend five years in reserve programs. In view of the growing threats from terrorists and the need to counteract their onslaughts, this is something to consider. A fabric of shared achievement could result.
But meanwhile, how about more of us realizing on a 24-hour, 7-day basis how supremely fortunate we have been to be born American? How many of us take into account that all our other sometimes countless blessings began with that single stroke of immeasurable fortune?