by Rod D. Martin
November 23, 2005

We have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving — the professional grumblers among us notwithstanding.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re not only alive, but have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, and a pretty decent roof over your head. Indeed, more Americans own their own roofs than ever before.

You also have a computer, the marvel of our age, and the freedom it gives you to find whatever information you want and not merely that which an elite would spoon-feed you in pursuit of its interests and not your own.

That should be enough to make you grateful all by itself.

But there’s far, far more.

Yes, we’ve had our share of hurricanes.

I know. Not long ago, my family and I survived one of them ourselves.

It was terrible. We lost our home and virtually everything we owned.

But we’re here to tell about it.

We can be very grateful that the loss of life, across the Gulf coast, has been far less than expected.

And we will rebuild. We always have. We always will. We’re Americans: it’s who we are.

Throughout history, we’ve had our share of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, blizzards, avalanches, mudslides, riots and even wars.

But we’ve always come back stronger. This time will be no different.

And for that, we can be thankful for answered prayers and the tough-minded, tender-hearted character of our nation and its people.

We can give thanks that our country remains not only the freest but the strongest nation in the world today.

Much of history is quite different.

It’s the story of Sparta crushing Athens, of Mao routing Chiang — of despots extinguishing the flickering flame of liberty.

In this world, goodness and power don’t often coincide; and while no nation is perfect, we can be thankful for the miracle that is America — a nation that strides like a colossus over the world yet uses its power to free rather than enslave mankind.

When America speaks, tyrants tremble and the weak have hope.

What a rare and precious miracle that is.

And let’s remember who keeps that miracle alive — the brave citizen volunteers of the armed forces of our country. These are our friends and neighbors, parents and teachers, children and grandchildren, and siblings as well.

These are the spiritual descendants of the Continental Army of our Revolution — the miracle army that braved the Valley Forge winter, defeated the world’s mightiest empire, and changed history forever.

Don’t believe the media. Our servicemen have performed magnificently and will certainly prevail. And we can and should be very grateful for the two thousand who’ve died and the many hundreds of thousands who live and continue to fight for our freedom.

We can be grateful for the continued blessings of free-market capitalism — how it has liberated more people from poverty and want than any idea in history.

We can be thankful for the men and women across America who respond to unmet human needs not by looking to Big Government but by forming their own organizations to tackle the problem. What Alexis de Tocqueville saw in the 1830s can be seen today as well. More than any people in history, Americans form “voluntary associations” for every conceivable cause. And as we’ve just seen in Louisiana, such causes are far better served by dedicated volunteers than by government bureaucrats.

We can be thankful for spiritual and intellectual leaders who stand for truth and integrity as they go about the business of influencing hearts and minds.

One thinks of Rick Warren, the down-to-earth pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America’s largest churches, and author of The Purpose-Driven Life, who, rather than squandering his new-found wealth on personal luxuries, gives it away to causes that count.

And one thinks of Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who imbues his students with a love of learning and truth, just by being who he is.

Of course we can be grateful as well for one hundred hardy and devout souls who in 1620 gave up everything to come to a New World so they could worship God in freedom and in truth.

There, at Plymouth, was where it all began — not just the first Thanksgiving, but the America we know and love today.

And finally, in being grateful for these things, we can be grateful to God, from Whom all these blessings — past, present, and future — flow. Just look at America’s history and you’ll see “destiny” written on every page.

A city on a hill? Yes. No matter what its detractors say, yes.

And when our time is done, may its light shine ever more brightly for the generations — and for the world — we leave behind.