We all have so many things to be thankful for over this coming Thanksgiving holiday – family, friends, loved ones, and so much more; and one in particular for me in 2016 is our country.
Three incredibly special experiences that I’ve had in 2016 cause me to thank God for the country that we call home as Americans, the good ol’ US of A. I’d like to share these with you.
First, this summer I had the good fortune to spend some quality time in seven different Baltic countries. Each country with its people and culture was uniquely memorable and fascinating with their rich histories. I enjoyed and learned from them all, but the one visit that contrasted most with my own sense of well-being with living in America was the trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. While the weather is not always the most uplifting part of visiting Russia, and certainly doesn’t make Russia in and of itself unique, I did notice something unusual. Of the many Russians we met and observed, what stood out was their very somber and serious tone in which they set about to do their everyday business. Not many smiles or warm greetings to be had. Not mad or angry mind you, just not a very happy tone. I did my upbeat and positive best to earn an acknowledging smile but I clearly failed. Granted that I don’t have any corner on creating happy faces, but this was a pretty dour crowd in a city of 5 million people. One could assume a very heavy hand on the socio, economic, political environment in Russia as the cause of this malaise; but whatever the reason, it sure made me feel thankful to be an American and live in a country, that while far from perfect, gives us real hope for the future. And a country that even can put a few smiles on the faces of our citizens.
The second wonderful experience this year was a trip this fall to learn about and meet some of the young men and women of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Carson, Colorado. Believe me when I say these men and women and their families are the best of the best – patriots and protectors of our constitution and freedoms, acting with absolute selfless courage no matter the mission. I’ve never been more proud to be an American when hearing the real-world stories of what it really takes for this country to be free and safe. We can all thank our lucky stars this country produces incredibly talented and knowledgeable soldiers with their supporting families willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so we can live our lives as we desire.
The last of the events that I experienced this year that make me thankful for our country is the one that all of us just experienced, the 2016 Presidential election. Regardless of political persuasion or position on the issues, I am so thankful that we live in a country that no matter how bitter the discourse we can all move ahead as a people to make all of our lives better.
So much to be thankful for and God bless the United States of America!