A giving community makes a stronger community

The OlympianNovember 28, 2013 

For the vast majority of the South Sound community, Thanksgiving is a day to gather with family and friends to give thanks for the many blessing life brings, eat perhaps a little too much turkey with all the trimmings, share memories, hopes and dreams, and maybe watch a little football.

Unfortunately for far too many in our midst, Thanksgiving is an empty, hungry day, a day when shelter for the night is uncertain, loneliness prevails and the future is more dim than bright.

Isn’t it a shame that in a country as rich and free as ours that such disparity exists?

To those in comfort: Find ways to help those in need. Build on and add to the philanthropy and generosity of others so that the gap between the haves and have-nots narrows, not widens, come Thanksgiving Day 2014.

With increased resolve and compassion, Thanksgiving can truly be a day of thanks and gratitude. This grand experiment in democracy known as the United States of America can improve on past performance and chart a sustainable path forward that is more inclusive and less divisive.

Listen to the words of past presidents over the arc of the country’s history. Republicans and Democrats alike have shared a message of thanks, unity and charity. Here are a few examples of Thanksgiving Day messages from leaders of the free world, messages that serve us best by turning them into action:

In 1789 the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation by President George Washington included these words: “Render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace and concord.”

In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt called on Americans to: “set our faces resolutely against evil, and with broad charity, with kindliness and good will toward all men, but with unflinching determination to smite down wrong, strive with all the strength that is given us for righteousness in public and in private life.”

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower offered this Thanksgiving Day message: “Let us share generously with those less fortunate than we at home and abroad. Let us at this season of thanksgiving perform deeds of thanksgiving; and throughout the year, let us fulfill those obligations of citizenship and humanity which spring from grateful hearts.”

In 2012, President Barack Obama had this to say: “On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community and country. Let us spend this day by lifting those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence.”

Heed the words of America’s past and current leaders. Put those evocations to work in daily life. Make this community, this state, this nation a place where giving comes easily and from the heart.

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