Published November 1966 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd Room 342, Old Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. Volume VI - Number 46 November 18, 1966 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column by Senator Robert C. Byrd AWARENESS OF BLESSINGS Thanksgiving Day, celebrated as a national holiday on the fourth Thursday of each November, as authorized by act of Congress on December 26, 1955, is the occasion which is perhaps most perfectly expressive of our national spirit. It has been described as combining in one concept the essence of American productive enterprise, domestic felicity, and religious devotion. It has been stated as representing the fruits of industry turned to family festivity and sanctified by prayer. It has been lauded as the national holiday dedicated to giving of praise and thanksgiving to God. Thanksgiving Day, 1966, appropriately should mean all of these things to the citizens of this Nation. It, however, has an even deeper significance to thoughtful minds. To be grateful, in remembrance of great things past and of good things in the present, when all things seem to be working to our advantage, when there is national prosperity, good government, and an atmosphere of promotion of knowledge, and where there is the practice of individual freedom of worship, is not hard. To be thankful for being a citizen of this, the best of all countries, in this much less than perfect world, is not difficult. But to be aware that, within another decade, the first two centuries of our Nation's history will have elapsed, and that the future, a partial view of which is even now with us, will take us from the Simpler existence of youth as a Nation, with seemingly endless abundance, to a far more complicated and differing environment, is to add its own sharpness of awareness of blessings. For to welcome the opportunity to turn one's intellect and one's good will toward providently using America's great heritage, richly and uniquely the essence of these United States, is to re1ize the trust placed in our citizenry. Thus, to be able to feel thankfulness for the charge of administering this trust wisely and righteously is of greater virtue than mere thankfulness for past good fortune. As a great American president stated this charge: "Ours is the opportunity as a free people to develop to the fullest extent all our powers of body, of mind, and of that which stands above both body and mind--of character. Into our care great resources of nature have been entrusted, and we are not to be pardoned either if we squander and waste them, or yet if we leave them undeveloped, for they must be made fruitful in our hands. Ever through the ages, at all times and among all peoples, prosperity has been fraught with danger, and it behooves us to beseech the giver of all things that we may not fall into love of ease and luxury, that we may not lose our sense of moral responsibility, and that we may not forget our duty to God, and to our neighbor." Let us then as a people, aware of the blessing of the opportunity, and with unflinching determination, strive with all the strength that is given us to reap the full benefit of the potential diversity of experience and achievement which will inevitably form our common future.