Today is the first day of November, a month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. We usually trace it back to 1621 Plymouth as a harvest celebration, with pilgrims and Indians and feasting. In 1789, George Washington declared a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." Abraham Lincoln set Thanksgiving as the last Thursday of November, but then in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941), FDR set it as the fourth Thursday of November because the fifth would fall too close to Christmas and businesses wouldn't be able to handle two big holidays, thus dampening the economic recovery after the Great Depression. Today, Thanksgiving is barely a speed bump between the candy coma of Halloween and the shopping and spending spree of Christmas. Instead of taking time to really give thanks, we eat too much and watch too much football and run out on our families to get to the stores for those early sales.
I made a decision a few days ago not to let Thanksgiving pass this year without properly giving thanks. 30 days of thanks is my response to Thanksgiving this year.
For day 1, I'm drawing on the the events today at LAX. If you've flown anytime in the last 12 years, you know how difficult air travel can be even on a good day. We complain about the screenings, and taking our shoes off, and being wanded. We've heard the reports of some TSA agents being less than honest on the job. But most of the people getting us through the airport, from the ticket clerks to the baggage checkers to the TSA agents are doing their best to keep us safe. And today they found themselves at the wrong end of an automatic rifle, and the first TSA agent killed in the line of duty happened. Thankfully there was a police officer who took down the shooter before even more people, men, women and children traveling on this Friday morning, were hurt. So today I'm thankful for all those people who keep us safe: police, fire, TSA, air marshalls; and I'm thankful for all those people who are there to help when tragedy strikes: paramedics, doctors, nurses, good people helping one another.
Unfortunately, the LAX incident is just one of many this year. But whether it's the Naval Yard shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing or the killing of teachers in Nevada and Massachusetts, there are those who are trying to protect us and those who respond with courage and grace when tragedies do occur. Thankfully my life hasn't been personally impacted by these tragedies, but I'm thankful that there are people out there willing to put themselves on the line to protect us in times of danger and that there are those who try to help whether they are first responders or ordinary people selflessly helping strangers. Thank you, for all you do.