Thanksgiving Message 2008
It is a dangerous time. It is a scary time. But it is a hopeful time as well.
As we stand on the brink of another Great Depression, we have much to give thanks for. We have elected a great leader, the most promising of my six-decade lifetime—maybe since Lincoln. The Civil War is really over after 143 years.
Best of all, we have begun to rediscover ourselves. Dimly now, more clearly soon, we will know anew who we really are.
America is not big cars or mighty armies. She is not opulence, open space, or the power of industry. She is not the Internet or the iPhone. Far less is she getting something for nothing.
America is possibility. She is what good education and hard work can bring. She is the chance that comes from all children being born equal. She abides in helping each other when we are down.
We have always known these things. During our great westward migration, neighbor helped neighbor build house and barn. During the Great Depression, farmers made sandwiches for wandering migrants looking for work. After we suffered and won the greatest war in history, we opened our hearts and our pocketbooks to help rebuild Europe and Japan. After Katrina, our youth flocked to New Orleans to rebuild homes for those who had lost them.
That’s who we are. That’s who we have always been. And that’s who we can be again.
On this day we should know these things. As I wrote last year, our first Thanksgiving exemplified them. We built a new society, based on Reason and Hope, in what seemed an endless wilderness.
We built America with humility. We were humble before the great land that beckoned us. We were humble before our fellow creatures, great and small. We were humble before all the tribes of humankind, including the misnamed “Indians” who helped us survive our first winter.
From time to time we forget. But we can remember and begin anew. We can and will become America again. We will get through this together. And we will be wiser, nobler and stronger when we do.