Much To Be Thankful For

Off to WarAnother Thanksgiving holiday passes us by and I’m reminded by just how much we have to be thankful for. So much earth-shaking, world-changing events have transpired, just in the last year. It’s often hard to take it all in–and still care. Yet amongst all this, that’s exactly what we have to do, to keep being the people we are.

I recently watched an episode of Off to War, a reality show following National Guardsmen as they face the daily grind of life deployed in Iraq. (Discovery Times Channel). In this episode, several of our guys are complaining about a group of children watching them with wide eyes. Some remark that any one of them might have a mortar or grenade, ready to detonate. Each four to nine year old Iraqi is viewed with contempt. Each is seen as an enemy combatant. Sgt. 1st Class David Short instead relates that how these men think of and relate to these kids impacts their own selves; Compassion here reflects who we are.

It’s easy to be angry–prudent to be on guard. But, when we harden our own hearts, when we disregard the very things that define us, we begin a slide that just may be irreversible. What is America, when the ideals that brought it into being are continually eroded?

Off to WarSeptember 11th forced us to take stock of ourselves. More recently, as hurricanes battered our state, our nation, people slid into “emergency” mode–survival mode. As crisis forced us into lines to buy gas, people got ugly. As we waited to buy lumber, milk and batteries, our collective patience waned.

This is either a wake up call to return to our senses, or the beginning of a Mad Max inspired future. Only when we collectively care about each other can we really triumph through this age. What survives as “America” through these years will certainly be something different from the Leave it to Beaver age. The question is, what will survive?

Values under attack
London, and now Boston battle over a similar controversy; No longer Christmas lights, they now call them holiday lights. The reason for the season completely subdued, as if the hyper-commercialization of Christmas has not done enough to due away with it’s spirit. In this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I see so much to be thankful for, yet there is also much to do. Amongst the contention, we need to still care. The spirit of Christmas is one of loving-kindness, compassion and good will towards all men. To lose that compassion to me, signals the cracking of a dam. An irreversible trend.

America, for all its woes, setbacks, issues and dilemmas, has been a beacon of hope to this world. Truth, justice and the American way, the hallmark of a Superman, now seem like a quaint reminder of a more naive age. Only when we all stand together for these ideals, for compassion, for justice, can our nation reclaim its place.

Off to WarLike that brave guardsman from Arkansas in Off to War, we need to find our heart again. That is what defines America.

As the season builds, I urge us all to take account of who we are and how we each serve our community. Give of yourself. Your time, your money, your thoughts. Only by working together can we make our community a place we want to live in. Daily, I am filled with hope, as I see so many people who give of themselves. There is so much to be thankful for.

Off to War
Off to War follows a group of men from the Arkansas National Guard as they leave their jobs and their families, bound for Iraq. The Discovery Times Channel was granted exclusive access to these soldiers of the 39th Brigade for the duration of their mission. Filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud were “embedded” with the troops. The Renaud brothers have produced documentaries for HBO and PBS. In addition, both were born and raised in Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas.
© 2005 Active Voice, Discovery Times Channel. All Rights Reserved.

For more information of Off to War, visit
It airs on Discovery Times channel, Saturdays at 10pm.