Published November 2002 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Giving Thanks for a Year of Blessings
Once again, Thanksgiving is upon us and West Virginians are preparing to give thanks to the Creator for His many blessings on our land. After the scares of last year and with the possibility of war looming ahead of us, the Thanksgiving feast, the epitome of family tradition, is more precious and appreciated than ever. The nation, too, feels stronger. We are more aware of ourselves as citizens of one land rather than as an eclectic mix of communities with little connection to each other. This year, as a nation, we feared the sniper that stalked the national capital area. As a nation, we pulled for the miners trapped underground in Pennsylvania. As a nation, we follow the hunt for terrorists and mourn for the victims of terrorist acts committed around the world. The flags that have flown in yards nationwide since September 11, 2001, are still flying in our hearts. Our military, with the National Guard and Reserve forces, is more unified this Thanksgiving. All are under the strain of extended deployments, but all are working together. I am thankful for their efforts and offer a prayer for each of the nation's men and women in uniform and their families. We ought to re- member and be thankful for their efforts. We also should remember the firemen, police, and lifesaving crews who have performed so heroically during the crises of the past year and more. People are alive today because of their efforts, and their future diligence may make the difference for all of us in the future.
At the first Thanksgiving, the settlers thanked Providence for seeing them through a difficult year. It is a daunting task, to carve a homestead out of the wilderness thousands of miles from anything familiar. Each log had to be cut with an axe, dragged to the site, and lifted by hand into place. Fields had to be cleared, planted, and tended, and game had to be hunted and cured, or there would be no food, let alone a Thanksgiving feast. This year, we gather with our loved ones, each house a glowing lamp of civilization in an increasingly hostile world. But for a day, we can easily push our nagging fears aside and find comfort in the warm bonds of family affection. As we polish the silverware, set the table, and prepare and serve the delicious food, we should give thanks for life's greatest gift -- our families. November 20, 2002