Thanksgiving Day, 1991

November 28, 1991

As American families gather today to give thanks this year, the nation is at peace -- and what a blessing it is. Only a year ago, many hearts trembled as tens of thousands of our finest young citizens were assembling far, far away in a bleak and desert landscape with war on their horizon and their lives on the line. The president spent the holiday with the troops in Saudi Arabia while, back home, anxious loved ones prayed with a special, if quiet, fervency.

Today the fast, brutal war that was to come is now history. Our armed forces are home-based, some in their homeland, some in distant places in service to their country. They deserve special gratitude from fellow citizens who, on this of all days, should put aside a moment to remember those who died or suffered wounds in the gulf war.

Because this is the day of Thanksgiving, all those Americans fortunate enough to sit in warmth before plates filled with turkey and all the trimmings should ponder for a moment the plight of those who are not so happily blessed. The poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, yes, even those in jails and prisons, deserve a special touch of comfort. In too many countries of the world, countries plagued by famine and disease, a feast is a fistful of rice, a ladle of contaminated water.

This and the Christmas-Hanukkah season to follow are moments for sharing -- not just within the family circle but for the multitude of humanity without. A salute for those Marylanders who have left their hearths to serve the less fortunate on this Thanksgiving Day.

These are hard times, financially, for many Americans, not least for veterans of the Persian Gulf war who came home to find their country ensnarled in an economic recession that continues to grind on relentlessly. Hard times are depressing times that mete out material as well as psychological damage. But hard times also can be unifying times, when the country finds itself more generous in thought and deed, less consumed with the pursuit of glitz, more concentrated on the essentials that really matter.

Thanksgiving Day is not a moment for patriotic celebration like the Fourth of July, that other most quintessential of American holidays. It is a moment to celebrate family, our common humanity, our joy in the full harvest of life. So let us gather together to ask the Lord's blessing.

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