Jewish World Review Nov. 16, 2001 /1 Kislev, 5762

Greg Crosby

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Giving thanks -- AS we prepare for what will certainly be the most poignant Thanksgiving Day in our time, there is much to be thankful for. First, let all of us who are fortunate enough to have escaped direct personal loss from the Islamic terrorist attacks give thanks that we, and the ones we love, have not been hurt. Anyone of us could have easily been among the thousands who perished.

This year, more than any other, we should be eminently thankful that we live free in the United States of America. Just think of all the countries on earth, all the governments, all the regimes on every continent in the world -- can you name one country better than America? Can you even name one as good? Name one country that offers the same civil liberties to its citizens that we enjoy here. Name a country where minorities have better opportunities for success. Where women are treated better. Where freedom of religion is valued higher.

Before you sit down to the turkey and pumpkin pie, give thanks that you live with the most compassionate and generous people on earth. Americans couldn't wait to help the victims in any way they could following the horrific events of a few weeks ago. Americans have donated more than a billion dollars to date. We should be thankful for our firemen, our police officers, and others in our communities who put their lives on the line for us daily (usually for very little money and no respect).

Thanks to our teachers, our doctors, and our nurses. Thanks also goes to our elected officials, most of whom, believe it or not, are decent people with good intentions who are really trying to keep this nation together and strong at this crucial period.

Let's be thankful in particular that we have a strong, resolute president in the White House. George W. Bush is a good and decent man with high principles, moral clarity, and an excellent team. The people around him are seasoned pros. No "on the job training" going on here, thank heavens.

And let's give thanks for our true friends abroad, like Prime Minister Tony Blair in the UK. He was there with us in a heartbeat, offering unconditional support and encouragement.

Who would have thought ... ?

Thanks to our military, who are out there in the planes, on the ships, and on the ground risking their lives to keep us safe. We, all of us, should be very thankful we have such brave men and women on our side fighting for America. Fighting against evil. Fighting in the name of goodness.

Yes, we have a lot to be thankful for. Thankful that the Taliban is being roundly defeated in Afghanistan. They have not been totally eliminated yet, but as their major cities and villages and strongholds fall, the war does appear to be going in our direction. We will all be thankful when we hear that Osama bin Laden and his top people are finally "brought to justice" (read: dead). Perhaps then we can turn our attention to Iraq and some of the other terrorist nests that continue to breed poison.

We can be thankful that the eight hostages have been rescued and will be home with their families for Thanksgiving.

We should be thankful for our friends.

We should be thankful for our prosperity and good fortune. Never forget that even in the worst of times we've got it a lot better then most of the world.

We should be thankful for our health and for the health and well-being of those we hold most dear. It seems that in previous years, many Americans have rushed through Thanksgiving in their hurry to get to the other seasonal celebrations. Thanksgiving Day was usually nothing more than just the start of the shopping season. This year will be different. We Americans may never rush through Thanksgiving again.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.

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