Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

Americans always have much to be grateful for each Thanksgiving season.  The annual holiday is best known for turkey, two days off from work, and football.  It is a rich tradition that is practiced in much of North America and throughout the world.

Giving Thanks This Holiday Season - Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

There are many claims to the official start date of the Thanksgiving holiday.  The earliest claim is by the Spanish, who claimed explorers in San Elizario, Texas held a religious service of thanks in 1598.  But the most common claims exist between Virginia and New England.  Virginia has the oldest claim, dating to 1619 and the arrival of 38 English Settlers at the “Berkley Hundred” colony.  Its founding charter as issued by the London Company recognized the day of thanks with this language:  “… that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned … in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

 While Virginia has the oldest claim, Americans typically refer to the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Thanksgiving celebration as the one most recognized in tradition and national folklore.  It first occurred in 1621 and included 53 surviving Pilgrims and a number of Indians.  Fifteen pilgrims had already died.  By the time supplies and new colonists arrived in 1623, only 4 adult females remained alive from the original landing.

Giving Thanks This Holiday Season - Pilgrims

Later, as President of the United States George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “… as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

Giving Thanks This Holiday Season - Family

 Top 5 Things Americans Can Be Thankful For:

 1. Patriotism. Back in 2014, singer Janine Stange decided to perform the National Anthem in all 50 states.  She is the first person known to do so, and when asked about what led her to do this she replied: “For 90 seconds, no matter who we voted for, or what team we want to win – we are as one. When we stand with our hands over our hearts, we are singing ‘our song.’ That is always to be regarded as a privilege, not a formality. I hope this mission brings a renewed awareness, honor and respect for those who have fought and sacrificed their time, wellbeing, families…and lives for our freedom.”   Lost on the so-called anthem/flag protesters in the NFL is that you will not win over an American by disrespecting their flag or their national anthem.  George M. Cohan, known as the father of American musical comedies, the “Man who Owned Broadway” and the composer of famous musical scores such as “Over There”, “Give My Regards to Broadway”, “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” also famously wrote the following:  “Ev’ry heart beats true, ‘neath the Red, White and Blue.”

 2. The opportunity of wealth, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness. As said many times, we enjoy the deepest capital markets, the rule of law, and a historical commitment to liberty that allows each American to pursue their own path in life.  Our markets enjoy an unequal status in innovation, and a diverse pool of talent among the population.  Nothing should be taken for granted, and freedom is only one generation away from being lost if we are not vigilant, but today in 2017, we have much to be thankful for.

3. The melting pot. Legal immigration is something to be thankful forPeople around the world remain desperate for a chance to visit that “Shining City on a Hill” known as America.  While illegal immigration can erode a common culture, and can cause political backlash, legal immigration helps us remain the most diverse and innovative economic engine in the world!

4. Our freedoms. Constitution, rule of law, Bill of Rights, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, to peaceably assemble, free from search and seizure, due process … the list goes on.  No country in human history has enjoyed the breadth of personal freedom and opportunity as we have here in America.  While that personal freedom appears to be fraying, we still should give thanks for the glory that it is to be an American.

5. Our families. Yes, your sister is insufferable … your grandfather keeps telling you that no one could beat the ’27 Yankees … your mother still has a VCR player with the number 12:00 flashing … Dad wants to eat at lunch instead of dinner and the kids do not want to come inside … some have few family members to share with at all. Take the time to give thanks for those that love us and no matter where we are or what we have become, will always stand with you because you are their family.

 Sam Adams was an American patriot, revolutionary, the brother of future President John Adams, and of course the namesake of a famous Boston lager.  He also is quoted often in patriotic literature, and one of his more famous quotes was: “If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”  Everywhere this Thanksgiving, please be sure to give thanks for American patriots, whose willingness to risk all for this grand experiment gave us a legacy unmatched in human history.

The last thing we should give thanks for, and perhaps most important, is for the men and women of the U.S. military.  Separated from their families, around the globe they keep watch to keep the American people safer than any other global empire in human history.

There is a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.  There are those in need, people you may know who need a helping hand, and we need to help take care of those less fortunate.  But all Americans have reason to give thanks – it starts with knowing that we are … Americans!

God Bless Our Veterans

Veterans Day is celebrated each year in the United States on November 11th.  We recognize, as a country, all our veterans who have served in the armed forces and helped defend our great nation.  Originally, the date was recognized as Armistice Day, in acknowledging the end of World War I and the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allied powers.

While the date was commemorated beginning one year after World War I, it was officially recognized as both a state and federal holiday in 1938 by an act of Congress (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a).  Its name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day by an amendment to the Act in 1954.

It is very important to distinguish between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. On Veterans Day, we honor our living veterans. On Memorial Day, we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

In this very tense, unprecedented time that we live in, it is important to remember and recognize the veterans you have in your personal life and our veterans around the country.  They deserve a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay. 

Here Are Our “Top 5 Facts” About Veterans Day:

 1. There are approximately 19-20 million+ veterans, in total, living today. By major conflict, they break down as follows:

World War I (1917-1918) – None, last one passed away in 2011.

World War II (1941-1945) – Estimated living veterans: 1,731,000

Korean War (1950-1953) – Estimated living veterans: 2,475,000

Vietnam War (1964-1975) – Estimated living veterans: 7,591,000

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) – Estimated living veterans: 2,644,583

War on Terror, Afghanistan and Iraq (2001-Present) – Estimated living veterans:  2,849,000

Soldiers deployed to combat zones globally, not listed above, who have engaged in combat, living today – 2 million+ (to include the Balkans during the 1990s, Somalia, Rwanda, Grenada, Lebanon, multiple countries in Africa, Panama, and Latin America)

2. Between 1971 and 1977, Veterans Day was celebrated on the 4th Monday of October. It was changed back to November 11th by a public law signed by President Gerald Ford.

 3. Arlington National Cemetery has a Veterans Day ceremony every year to honor the fallen. The ceremonies are held around the “Tomb of the Unknowns” at 11:00 AM on November 11th. A combined color guard of all military services executes the “Present Arms” at the tomb.

 4. Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, came up with the idea to honor all veterans on November 11th, not just the ones who died in World War I.

 5. The word “veteran” first came in to use in 1789, when former British servicemen were referred to in Parliament as “veterans”, those who are older and with experience in combat. Today, the word has broadened its use to many professions to describe those with experience.

 Fallujah, Mosul, Baghdad, Tora Bora, Kandahar … today’s battles reflect a country at war now for 16 years. They echo a previous generation still with us, whose formative battles included the Chosin Reservoir to Hue and Khe Sanh.  Battles fought in faraway places to defend America, and the American way of life.

Veterans Day may not be as connected to days off from school, burgers on the grill, or a massive firework display.  But remembering, and thanking, those who are still with us – who have given so much – is the least we can do.  American military veterans represent the very best of us.

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U.S. Constitution

U.S. Constitution: A Celebration of Freedom

Many countries have claimed the title of “republic” throughout the centuries, but it was in name only.  A republic is defined as representative government, representatives who are subject to the democratic voting public (citizens, usually men, but in the late 19th and early 20th century to include women). What has made the American republic unique, and still standing to this day?  Our Constitution.  This week passed the 230th anniversary of our Founding Document!

Progressives believe it should be a living, breathing document… that it changes with time.  But that is because they wish to interpret it how they see fit, to change the culture without democratic debate.  Conservatives align with the Founding Fathers – that the document should remain true to the Framer’s intent, which prevents rule by the mob. If you wish to change it, there is a process: amendments.

This week we celebrated Constitution Day on Monday, September 17th – and we are reminded of the importance of keeping its “original intent.”  It should also be a reminder of how important this seminal document is to our history, our freedoms, and as we watch the news each day… our future!

 I. Why the Constitution Should be Applied Utilizing the Framer’s “Original Intent”:

  1. Ensures that decisions are rooted in history, tradition, culture, and the rule of law. Critics of “originalism,” “strict constructionism,” and/or “original intent” usually follow the same script:  minorities could not vote, women could not vote, and therefore the document is flawed.  That of course is flawed thinking.  The Framers were men of the Enlightenment, and as stated above, they left a process in place to make such changes – it was called amendments.  And where the Constitution did not address a particular social injustice when signed – such as universal voting rights or the immorality of slavery – the amendment process eventually corrected those issues over time.
  2. Framers were enlightened men, inspired by divine guidance. John Adams said it best – “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Interpreting the Constitution with “original intent” helps us remain fervently committed to a just and moral foundation of right and wrong.  Each ruling that has gone against the Framer’s intent has usually resulted in a decline in morality… that of course is self-evident today.  And as morality and justice give way to progressivism, the social decline will continue.
  3. It works… always has. Recent cases such as DC v. Heller – which preserved the 2nd Amendment – helped preserve Constitutional protections for U.S. citizens.  Without a Constitution that is foundational and fixed to certain moral and civic truths, then future governments can simply change the meaning of your rights as the mob of voters dictate.  The Constitution is here not to give us our rights, but to protect us from government taking them.  Freedom of speech, trial by jury, no search and seizure… American freedom from tyrannical government is enshrined in the hallowed words of our founding document!

“The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon” – George Washington, 1795.  It is pretty hard to argue with that sentiment, and it speaks to the finite nature of the document.  How can something guide you if you are allowed to change it?

The country celebrated a week of important moments in American history, this past week, yet they were hard to notice from the news coverage.  In addition to Constitution Day, we also celebrated the birthday of the Air Force and the CIA.  Take a moment to reflect on the importance of these American institutions.  They help protect our freedoms, and what protects our freedoms from government intervention – the Constitution – is the most important American institution of all!