The spirit of Thanksgiving
By: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe
Friday, November 18, 2011
For generations, during this season, our nation has taken time to turn our thoughts toward thankfulness. While many will gather with family and friends to show gratitude for blessings received, others will struggle and question if what they have been dealt this year is worthy of giving thanks.
To be sure, it is easy to be grateful during times of plenty, but the true spirit of Thanksgiving can be found during times of difficulty. We need look no further than our nation’s own history to see examples of this spirit displayed in ways that inspire us today.
On Thanksgiving Day 1931, as our nation was struggling through the Great Depression, President Herbert Hoover captured the spirit of gratefulness. He wrote, “The measure of passing adversity which has come upon us should deepen the spiritual life of the people, quicken their sympathies and spirit of sacrifice for others, and strengthen their courage.” This year, many of our neighbors again find themselves in need due to circumstances beyond their control, and Thanksgiving grants us an opportunity to share the spirit of gratitude through giving and compassion.
In 1942, as thousands of American troops fought and died to defend freedom during World War II, Roosevelt’s Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation quoted Psalm 23. In that great passage, the Psalmist extols the Lord for providing comfort, blessing, and a cup that runs over in the midst of agony. In closing, FDR admonished the nation to be inspired with faith and courage and to “turn again to the work that confronts us in this time of national emergency.”
Even now, thousands of our fellow Oklahomans are again in foreign lands fighting to defend and protect freedom. For some in our state, it has been an agonizing year of loss. With deep appreciation, we and demonstrate and live the spirit of thankfulness by delivering encouragement, comfort and blessings to our men and women and uniform and families they have left behind.
Finally, we see the true spirit of Thanksgiving in the very foundations of our nation’s holiday tradition. Having endured the long and potentially fatal journey to the New World, the Pilgrims found themselves faced with rocky shores, a dark unknown wilderness, and a harsh New England winter. In the midst of hardships and perilous conditions, their faith and endurance set the course of a new nation born of freedom and self government.
Today, some may feel hopeless facing their own rocky shores, dark wilderness or harsh winter. Here, the spirit of Thanksgiving can be found, as it was with the Pilgrims in overcoming those difficulties through faith, strength, and hard work. This is where we can find greatness born out of adversity.
Psalm 92:1 says, “It is good to give thank to the Lord.” Our country has been exceedingly blessed, and we find hope in the rich heritage of gratefulness that we have inherited from previous generations. So this year, through our words and our deeds, may we each find the spirit of Thanksgiving as we give thanks to the Giver of all good gifts.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is the senior senator from Oklahoma.