Being an American is a wonderful privilege. Spaced throughout this month, we have three key dates to celebrate what it means to be Americans.
November 3rd — Election Day
On Tuesday, November 3rd, we vote in an election to determine the leaders of our nation for the next two, four, or six years depending on the office. American liberty was founded on several key principles. One of these key principles was that government could govern legitimately only if it had the “consent of the governed.” Voting is the way that we Americans give our consent.
Today, we take voting for granted. However, prior to the founding of the United States, it was a rare thing for people to vote for their rulers. Before that, it was almost universally believed that common people did not possess the wisdom or intelligence to have a say in their government or vote for their leaders. Since the founding of the United States, voting by citizens to have a say in their government and to elect their leaders has expanded throughout the whole world. The example and influence of the United States has helped to spread representative democracy to every corner of the globe, and with it, new respect for human rights and freedom for millions. It is something of which to be proud.
November 11th — Veterans Day
On Wednesday, November 11th, we honor veterans by celebrating Veterans Day. Military veterans have committed their lives to protecting the United States and our precious and unique freedoms — such as the right to vote. By serving in the military, they have said that they were willing to put their lives on the line to defend the United States. On Memorial Day in May, we remember and honor those who gave their lives in military service, but this month we honor those veterans who also made sacrifices for the country.
Those sacrifices include leaving home and community for strenuous training in far-away places. It can include long deployments away from family and friends, including being completely out of touch for weeks and months at a time. In can include the stress, fear, and trauma of combat. It can include suffering wounds, both visible and unseen. It can include enduring insults and hostile treatment in other countries, and also at home by some who mistakenly feel that they can express their opposition to government policy by treating poorly those who served.
We can help make the sacrifices and service of our veterans worthwhile by acknowledging and honoring their service on Veterans Day.
November 26th — Thanksgiving Day
On Thursday, November 26th we celebrate one of the earliest and most important of American holidays, Thanksgiving. The early settlers of America faced great hardships, including starvation, disease, and many deaths. When they finally began to get established, many of the various colonies began to hold “Thanksgiving” celebrations. According to Wikipedia:
Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts… The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest, which the Pilgrims celebrated with Native Americans, who helped them get through the previous winter by giving them food in that time of scarcity.
Today, many mental health professionals say that it’s healthy to take a little time each day to find things for which to express gratitude, even despite difficult circumstances. The Good Book concurs. It says, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you…” (1 Thess. 5:18).
For many people, Thanksgiving can become little more than a day off to eat too much and watch football while mentally preparing for Black Friday sales. This year, while you are at the Thanksgiving meal table, it might be a nice idea to spend a few moments talking about the things for which you, and the people with you, are thankful. At our own annual celebration, we try to give everyone around the table a chance to share. It seems to make everything just a little bit better. It might also be good to give thanks simply for the great and rare privilege of being in America, the best country on earth.
Have a great November. HVN