As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, many of us will focus on issues of the moment: when's the last time the turkey was basted, where are we going to put all the leftovers, where's the Alka-Seltzer, what channel’s the game on, who really won the election, what does the future hold?
There will be prayers for those who are in Covid’s grasp, prayers for those who have been taken. That's as it ought to be.
Few of us will give thanks for things that didn't happen, or things we don't have, however. This Thanksgiving, we should be thankful for those things as well.
Had some of them happened, we wouldn’t be having the kind of Thanksgiving we’re going to have tomorrow.
--We didn't have a national meltdown when the Civil War erupted. The Union survived, unbroken into two nations. The South didn't erupt in years of guerrilla warfare after Gen. Lee surrendered.
--During World War II, the Japanese didn’t take Hawaii. And yes, they had plans to do just that. The Germans weren’t quite able to develop a nuclear bomb ahead of us. And yes, they were working hard on it.
Had Germany developed such a device, some historians believe plans were afoot to fly it over New York or Washington DC, and detonate it.
--During John Kennedy's short term of office, we didn't have a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many older Americans remember those days, when any miscalculation -- and we came awfully close -- could have triggered a nuclear disaster.
--When Kennedy was assassinated, we didn't have a national come-apart. The military or some splinter group of government didn't take power, as so often happens in other countries when a leader is gunned down. There was an orderly transition of power.
--Since 9-11, we haven't had any more catastrophic foreign-sponsored terrorism incidents in the continental United States. Many of us have grown indifferent to that fact. We’re more likely to cuss airport security, complain about cramped seats or airline food, than to give thanks for once-again safe skies.
--We haven't had a container ship pull into an American port carrying a hidden nuclear device, which some madman then detonated. There’s no smoking crater where New York or Boston or Savannah or Biloxi once stood.
Perhaps we celebrate Thanksgiving for two reasons. The first, of course, is a just and loving God who has blessed this country since its inception.
The second reason includes the countless Americans -- both military and civilian -- who guard our way of life in jungles and back alleys and computer rooms around the world.
All of us should give thanks that we have such people defending our freedom whatever the cost, seeking to bring security to an insecure world, and having the strength and determination to fight for America.
This may be the first Thanksgiving away from home -- or just the most recent of many -- for some soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine, or some civilian operating deep in the shadows.
For all of them, the turkey will have an extra flavor, the flavor of home, like the sound of a Southern accent 10,000 miles from Dixie.
Never forget that despite all that's wrong with this nation, far more is right with it.
Tomorrow, as you say grace, give thanks for all you have as an individual, and all we have as a nation.
And don't have...