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A cornucopia of gratitude

By Frank Salvato
web posted December 1, 2008

As we enter the holiday season we will begin to hear a lot about kindness and appreciation. Sure, there will be the mental midgets who need to take issue with holiday displays and transmitted sentiments (we should really pity their stunted intellect as they celebrate their generic event) but for the most part we will begin to hear quite a bit about giving thanks, peace on earth, goodwill, brotherhood, sharing and sacrifice. This is the season of hope and while certain political opportunists incessantly try to franchise that word, for all their efforts, they are included in this joyous season as well.

I could go on to explain what it is I am thankful for this holiday season but truth be told, I am grateful for all I have each and every day of my life. I celebrate my family and friends and I give thanks for what I have and the opportunities that are presented to me. I am inclined to concur with an old and dear friend of mine who lives in North Florida: If you wake-up breathing it’s a pretty good day.

No, today I want to speculate on instances of gratitude that we as a society may be inclined to overlook, even throughout the holiday season.

There is the gratitude of the first time mother and father, who after experiencing the disappointment of years of infertility now hold in their arms, but for the grace of God, a life that they created together. Having never given up their dream of bringing a child into this world they dared to believe; they dared to hope. Today they see the power of hope in their baby’s eyes and they are thankful.

At the same time, new parents accept the gift of life through adoption from a young woman who had the courage to understand the value of life. As the adoptive parents give thanks for the gift of life entrusted to them by the baby’s biological mother, she too give thanks for the loving family that has given her baby a chance at having a life she could have never offered. Today they too see the power of hope in the eyes of a child.

Meanwhile, half way around the world – or perhaps not – an American soldier walks on patrol with an Iraqi soldier in al Anbar. As they carefully and purposefully advance down the street, the Iraqi soldier feels a sense of gratitude that his American counterpart believed enough in his abilities to risk his life to train him; believed enough in his want for liberty and freedom that he would stand side-by-side, so far away from his home and his loved ones, in fighting for the Iraqi people’s sovereignty.

At the same time the American soldier feels a kinship and an appreciation for his Iraqi counterpart. He knows that by investing his trust and expertise in the people of Iraq – and this individual in particular – he has facilitated the creation of a society that values liberty and freedom for all men, everywhere, while shaping a warrior who would stave off tyranny. Both soldiers, both warriors, are empowered with hope for a better future for both lands, both peoples, a better future for the world.

And there is the volunteer who trades time spent with her family and friends on Thanksgivings, Christmases and many more days throughout the year so that she can reach out to a senior citizen who lives alone with no family to call. She celebrates her appreciation for a life spent being a mother, a father, a son, a daughter...a friend. She celebrates her appreciation for being alive by helping another to feel alive. And the senior gives thanks for being appreciated, for being valued, for not being forgotten. She gives thanks for a friend and someone who cares. Both the volunteer and the senior feel the hope that kindness affords.

There are the police officers who give thanks for the good people from their communities that appreciate the often thankless job they have in protecting and serving. And there are the firefighters and paramedics that give thanks that another life has been saved and another house full of priceless memories preserved. These public servants, who accept that each kiss they get from their spouses, each hug they get from their children, each approving look they receive from their families, that each of these could be the last, they understand the full importance of hope.

I could go on and on depicting true to life scenarios that we seldom think about when we are sitting around our dinner tables with family and friends, when one of our family members asks, innocently enough, “What are you thankful for this holiday season?”

What would be even better is if you would create some of your own.

Note: This holiday season I give thanks for my family, my friends, for those who protect me, for those who give of themselves and for those who afford me liberty and freedom. I give thanks for the life that God has given me and I give thanks for the opportunities that life has and will present.

This holiday season, please take the time to remember those who protect, serve and provide for all our nations citizens. Stop by the fire houses and the police stations to say thank you. And most importantly, take the time to write those serving our country on the field of battle and those who have returned home after sacrificing for our liberties. Send a Christmas card to our military men and women to let them know you care by engaging in the American Red Cross’ Holiday Mail for Heroes Program (http://www.redcross.org/email/saf/) and the Adopt-A-Soldier Program (http://www.adoptasoldiernow.org/Home.html).

Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for BasicsProject.org a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at newmediajournal@comcast.net.

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