Kathryn Lopez

He saw this homeland for the first time in 51 years.

I've spent the last week on a fundraising cruise for National Review magazine. We dropped by the Cayman Islands, Grand Turk and Cozumel. (I gather there are harder jobs.) It was more than just people listening to seminars, meeting one another, sharing gratitude for people and principles they appreciate and hold dear.

And we passed by Cuba. A usual late-riser, our Cuban exile cruiser says he was given "a gift from God," when he found himself awake, to look out and see the country he fled as a youth. A flood of memories came back, and a dream that a future cruise might bring him home.

He was so grateful. Not bitter. Not sad. Just grateful.

This entire ship has been full of gratitude. Yes, because the midterm elections saw some right-leaning wins and this is a right-leaning crowd. Speaker John Boehner became a little more official while the USS NR was on water. Mitch McConnell listened to the tea-party movement and embraced an end to earmarks. There is gratitude for these things. You don't have to agree that earmark reform is the be-all and end-all to recognize that it was an issue in this election. And, as with the health-care legislation that was passed in the spring, to go from a Washington that wasn't listening to American voters to a Washington feeling a new kind of responsibility toward them -- this is good. How we do this in such a relatively peaceful manner is something to be grateful for.

There is gratitude for those who have been true trailblazers in the fight for truth and justice.

Liberal feminists are forever honoring those they deem heroines in the face of supposed oppression. But one woman who was among the first females to graduate from Harvard is not on their list of honorees.

The scene: our nation's capital, around three decades ago. The Senate had passed it 84 to 8. The House had passed it 354 to 23. Thirty states had approved it in the first year after it was sent for ratification. Only eight more states were needed. The Equal Rights Amendment was going to be the next Constitutional amendment. But it's not, because Phyllis Schlafly stopped it.

She was a Mamma Grizzly long before John McCain would pick Sarah Palin as his running mate. Born in St. Louis, a place where I'm not sure that grizzly bears are all that comfortable. But comfortable she is.

She's a lady who saw threats to marriage and family itself being pushed by the ERA and its proponents, and she would have none of it. We have a lot to thank her for -- including for being a lady who modeled fearlessness in politics, even while being labeled a self-hating woman who deserved to be burned at the stake.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.