Giving thanks during these difficult economic times, perhaps the most difficult since the Great Depression for many Americans, may seem next to impossible. In reality, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
When the majority of us cast our lot with Barack Obama to be the next president, we exercised the unique rights in our Constitution and other documents that gave us the power to produce a milestone that is a beacon to the rest of the world. Enough of us set aside the racial strife and resentments that have divided us since the country's inception and fulfilled a dream that was deferred for too long. We can be thankful.
The news of late regarding Iraq has been generally favorable. For the first time, thanks to pending agreements between our government and Iraq and initiatives among the Iraqis themselves, we can see a possible end to our military involvement in the Muslim nation. We are encouraged that the numbers of U.S. casualties continue to fall. Recent reports indicate that fewer Americans were killed there since June than at any other time during the nearly five-year war. As a result, the war no longer has its broad polarizing effect in our communities, and most of us want to see the troops come home as soon as possible. We can be thankful.
Even as our families, corporations and financial institutions struggle, we can be proud of our charitable spirit. The Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University reports, for example, that service and giving have increased among children of all ages. Using the Internet primarily, children are donating large sums to worthwhile causes in the United States and elsewhere. Others are volunteering for local projects and are seeing firsthand the results of their good work. For this, we can be thankful.
President Franklin Roosevelt, who led the nation during harsh economic times generations ago, clearly understood America's philanthropic character when he said in 1933: "These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow man."
From our own communities to countries far from home, Americans will continue to help one another and other people worldwide. Hard times have never dampened our spirit for long. We always recover from hardships, and we remain a land of plenty and of perseverance, a nation with much to be thankful for on this special holiday.