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Thanksgiving Day 2004

November 25, 2004

On this Thanksgiving Day, the staff of The Herald-Mail wishes everyone in the Tri-State area a happy holiday.

In contemporary America, Thanksgiving has come to be associated with turkey dinners, football games and visits from relatives who live in distant places.

Those are all good things, but we suggest that readers take a few moments today to reflect on what we have and, as columnist George Will says elsewhere on this page, how we came to have this wonderful national inheritance.

We have just finished a national election, but unlike the people in Afghanistan, no one had to walk for days to get to the polling place, or stand in line for hours once they got there.

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And although some are disappointed in the results, the supporters of losing candidates in America do not have to fear that they will be shot or tortured or lose their jobs.

In the early days of the American government, the president and Congress traveled to Philadelphia, then the capital, where Yellow Fever ravaged the population every summer.

The cause of the mosquito-borne illness was not known then, so sufferers rode out the infection with prayer their only comfort. Today the sick or injured are taken to the hospital where, if they can't afford it, their medical care is free.

Most families today don't grow their own food and if a crop of some sort is destroyed by a storm, nobody in America starves.

No one who asks for help freezes on the street, either. Agencies will feed and shelter those who need it and try to counsel those who have been hurt by mental illness or substance abuse.

To get to this point, many people made great sacrifices, Even now, the ambulance and fire services are staffed to a great extent with volunteers who go to their paid job, then come home and risk their lives to help others.

The one thing that has happened in America is that because of work and the many forms of home entertainment available, we have grow apart from our neighbors, to to the point where it is not unusual for some not to know the names of the people living across the street.

Those people may have relatives and friends, but all of us know someone who will be alone today for whatever reason. In gratitude for what we have, we ask readers to think today about sharing some time, a kind word and perhaps a plate of food with those who may not be as fortunate.

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