The voyage of the Mayflower: the convictions that helped undergird those early urgings of liberty; the vast resources and deeply etched beauty evident from sea to shining sea; the commitment of early settlers to their ideals of self government; the tenacity and resolve of colonists to work out the details in towns and communities through trial, error, honesty, mistakes, perseverance, and grace.
The courage of the thirteen colonies to stand against tyranny, and the personal faith and integrity of folk like George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Presbyterian preacher John Witherspoon (the only cleric on the document), who all signed their names to their convictions, risking everything. The rightness of their cause; the strength of those who fought; the honor of those who fell; the heroism of those who still fight today.
Two hundred and twenty-five years of struggle, positive intention, evaluation, self correction, and understanding; the knowledge that we are an experiment in "democracy in progress;" the nerve and the resolution of reformers who do constant battle with inertia and self-satisfaction; our ability to evaluate honestly, and to contend even with ourselves when we cannot stand up in the light of our own Constitution.
The Statue of Liberty, immigration, and the yearnings of the dispossessed; the Bill of Rights; Civil Rights legislation that holds us accountable; the three branches of Federal Government and their magical checks and balances of appointment, election, terms of office, and ratification that collectively serve to confound every intention but the will of the people; debate; folk who believe passionately that the rest of us are wrong; the way we all handled last year's election, and the relationship of providence to hanging chads, gracious withdrawals, and the state of the nation today.
I am grateful, too, for opportunity. In this nation we are all equal: the descendants of George Washington; the child of a Cuban plantation owner escaping the sins of his ancestors; the great-grandchild of a slave ripped from his mother's arms in Africa; a student from England choosing America; the Muslim daughter of an Afghan refugee. There is nothing to distinguish between us; we have all been blessed by the privilege of liberty, and the great groundswell of hope that characterizes this amazing land.
Rebekah, my family, all of the close-knit kinships that shape the character of America; prosperity; philanthropy; the opportunity God has given us to be generous to our brothers and sisters in other places; the impartial and beneficent love of God, and the revolutionary impact that knowing his goodness and grace has had on my life and the lives of so many people that I love.
I am thankful for this space; that I can communicate with so many of you; that I can share with people who care about their community and the wider world. Therefore, I will consume mass quantities of turkey, love vast numbers of extended family who will stampede our home, and toast the spirit of that first Thanksgiving; grateful for their dream, one that I am able to enjoy this very day. God bless you.
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