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There is much to be thankful for
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Thanksgiving is that time of year when we consider our manifold blessings, not the least of which is that the bald eagle won out as America's national bird. Ben Franklin proposed the turkey to symbolize the nation, and if the turkey was now protected, who knows what we'd be baking and slathering with giblet gravy on Thursday.


Year's end will mark 12 years that I've been privileged to share with you my weekly thoughts. From letters, e-mails, phone calls, and conversations on the town square, in the grocery store and at high school football games, I've gained a sense of what's right in this world. Many of you have started conversations with "I know you from your picture in the paper," which is better than being recognized from a post office picture.

So, at Thanksgiving's approach, I am grateful for you who have continued to read me, and for the support you've provided as I've shared my inner self with you over the years.

So let me offer up some food for thought, and as you reflect at Thanksgiving perhaps it will provide a starting point for your contemplation.

Any consideration of blessings for which I am thankful begins with being an American, a lifelong Georgian, and having been raised in the small town of Greensboro. Small town values constitute the foundation upon which this great nation was built. I'm so thankful that these tenets were infused into my very being, forming a bedrock of truth to which I repeatedly return when comparing how life and government in this nation have changed over my lifetime.

I'm thankful for people who understand that freedom is not free, that ensuring freedom requires responsible leadership and sacrifice. I'm grateful for those who took to battlefields in places our young people no longer hear of in classrooms, who made the actual, pivotal difference in whether this place remained a British possession or became The United States of America. Men who left hardscrabble existences to fight horrific battles in places like King's Mountain, N.C., many dying in gruesome fashion for an idea - an idea that their survivors would live free.

I am thankful for those who believed in limiting the power of the Federal government, who sallied forth for state's rights in this nation's great Civil War. I find it interesting as contemporary battles engage involving a state's rights to make law addressing illegal immigrants, or to accept universal Federal healthcare guidelines, how suddenly those who never understood the point now start to get it.

I'm grateful for the Tuskegee Airmen, the Red Ball Express, and Doris "Dorie" Miller: African-Americans who served with distinction in World War II and largely paved the way for President Harry Truman's desegregation of America's armed forces and, subsequently, this nation's granting of full rights of citizenship to persons of color.

I'm thankful for a document which has survived and continues to function after 234 years, the Constitution of The United States of America. And for civil servants, elected and non-elected, who take seriously their obligation to adhere to the supreme law of our land.

As America's national day of thanks approaches, I'm thankful for my family. I was lucky, and I know it. Adopted into a family which gave me an honorable name, I married the finest woman in the world. We raised three healthy, intelligent, talented children in a community which adheres to values reminiscent of my small home town. And God, for reasons known only to Him, blessed me with insight into things metaphysical and eternal.

In closing, I am thankful to our Supreme Being, God Almighty, for creating this earth and America in it, and for giving me this span of years to enjoy. And I pray God's blessings upon you, and upon America.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.