Nearly 400 years ago early colonists declared a three-day festival in celebration of their first bountiful harvest in America. They invited their new Native American friends who were largely responsible for the crop’s success. By all accounts we have of the event, it was a joyous time of thanks.

We are far removed from that inaugural feast. While the tradition has fluctuated throughout the centuries, changing to accommodate wars, economic depressions, and cultural shifts, the basic principles remain the same. We still count our blessings and gather with friends and family. We still contribute our individual skills and knowledge to make this a better place to live. We still share with others who may have less than we do. We still look to the future with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

We always have something for which to give thanks in this land of ours, with family and freedom at the top of the list. We are blessed to live in this beautiful, bountiful nation. We are especially thankful for the courage of our men and women in uniform, including those serving now, those who were there for us in the past and those who paid the ultimate price for freedom including those listed as POW/MIA.

We are also thankful for those who serve and protect us here at home and those who strive to make sure no one is hungry—especially our farmers.

The words penned by Katharine Lee Bates over a century ago got it right, I think:

“O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!”

Happy Thanksgiving, to all.