This Thanksgiving I shall give thanks for America. America is a great place to live, work and play. Foreign people want to crash the party. That is a wonderful thing. Just look at those many other countries where people are trying to escape. I am grateful that people are trying to come to America—not trying to escape.
I am thankful that generous Americans give $358 billion dollars a year to charity. I am thankful that each year Americans devote eight billion hours of their time to volunteer work.
I am thankful that America is a wealthy nation. Wealth gives us the capability to solve many problems. It enables us to finance, for example, the Centers for Disease Control that allocates medical research funds and monitors for contagious diseases. Our wealth finances the world’s most power military force. Our wealth finances a vast array of vital government services including air traffic controllers who keep commercial passenger planes from bumping into each other.
I am thankful that there has been no war on American soil for 150 years. The naval fleet at Pearl Harbor and Schofield barracks were bombed in 1941, but Hawaii did not become a state until 1959. I am grateful to those Americans who gave life and limb so that others may live.
I am thankful for the many teachers who dedicate their lives to the betterment of our children, giving them the resources they need to live successfully in a complex world. I am thankful for our many colleges and universities that allow us to maximize our usefulness and construct a better future for all.
I am thankful for the freedom of expression that is missing in so many countries but is so vital to a good life. Freedom of expression gives us the right to be wrong without being sent to prison for expressing an unpopular opinion. Freedom of expression is a necessary foundation for a democracy.
I am thankful that American society tolerates the intolerant among us. Americans understand that reason and exposure to public opinion will eventually marginalize those who are intolerant of others.
America has unsolved problems, but I am thankful that we have the opportunity to solve those problems. We have democratic institutions, educated people, and a prosperous and ambitious population. I am thankful that Americans have the courage to tackle the toughest problems. I am thankful that I am an American.
Jack Stevenson is now retired from military service. He served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA).