While I’ve been tough on Congressman Joe Pitts for his willingness last year to hold the country’s economic health hostage to score a few cheap political points, his Thanksgiving message titled, “Lots to Give Thanks For” which speaks to the long American traditions of gratitude, bipartisanship and solidarity, is worth reading.
Here is Mr. Pitts’ Thanksgiving message in it’s entirety:
We’ve got a lot to be thankful for in this country. We’re the world’s preeminent military power, the world’s largest economy, the world’s largest exporter of art and culture, and, most of all, a symbol that resonates around the world of the dignity of free, self-governing people.
Maybe sometimes we take it for granted. Maybe sometimes we forget the veteran who lost a leg, or an arm, or a young and promising life while keeping up safe. Maybe we forget about our heroes who are still serving, still in harm’s way, because they’re thousands of miles away, in places like Afghanistan.
Maybe we forget the heroes at home, too: the mother and father who sacrifice each day just to feed their children, or ensure that they get a good education. Maybe we forget the schoolteacher who buys her students school supplies out of her own wallet. There is so much to be thankful for that sometimes we don’t notice it all.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful day when we take a day to rest from our work, spend time with loved ones, and take stock of the great bounty that has been bestowed on all of us. It’s an occasion that brings people together.
I know that there are a lot of Thanksgiving tables around Pennsylvania, and around the country, where Democrats and Republicans will be sitting across from each other, or next to each other. It’s probably the case for most of us. And I think that’s important. This holiday is about our national identity, not our party identity. It doesn’t matter what your race is or your creed; it’s a day of solidarity as Americans.
I think most people would agree that we could use a little more of that solidarity on the other 364 days of the year; I know that I sure do. That’s why I’ve tried to find common ground with my colleagues who are from different regions of the country, different backgrounds, and, yes, a different political party.
I’ve been privileged to serve these last four years as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee. Health is important for all of us, indeed necessary: without our health, we have nothing. Illness does not care if you are Republican or Democrat, whether you are from Pennsylvania or from Texas, or what your skin color: it affects all of us at some point in our lives.
As we near the end of 2014, and we pause to give thanks, I look back on this past Congress with gratitude. Were there some difficulties? Was there squabbling? Of course. But there was also a lot of good that came about when leaders in both parties came together as Americans to help people.
I’m especially pleased that the Health Subcommittee was able to pass 19 pieces of legislation into law. People talk all the time about gridlock, about a do-nothing Congress, and there is some truth to it—there is a lot, for example, that I would like to get done this upcoming year. But let’s not take for granted or ignore the times when we worked together for the common good. Doing so requires mutual respect, and acknowledging that those with whom we disagree also love this country and want what is best for it. I am thankful for the magnanimity of my colleagues who helped to get these bills to the President’s desk, and ultimately into law.
Thanksgiving is also a centuries-long tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. We ought to be grateful for those who went before us, and we ought to be mindful of posterity. We have, as always, an awesome responsibility to keep America strong, prosperous, and free: if we fail posterity, then we fail likewise our forebears who strove as much for them as for us.
Thanksgiving is not about turkey; it’s not about football. It’s about this beautiful, exceptional country we all love. So when you’re watching the game or passing the stuffing, remember the work, the heroism, and the generosity that was necessary to make today possible, and remember that the people you’re sitting with, whether you agree with them on everything or not, are united with you in love of country.
Top photo courtesy of CNN.