Ross Mackenzie

On Thanksgiving we give thanks — or are supposed to. But to whom, or what?

Atheists say to no one beyond themselves, or to no thing beyond luck. Agnostics aren’t sure. Believers give thanks to their God — notably here in this beloved land. The earliest extant document of our Founding is the Mayflower Compact — signed by the principals on board before landing at Plymouth in 1620. It begins with these six words: “In the name of God. Amen.”

They were thankful, truly. They trusted in their God and believed they came here with his grace — and established a new nation. Our money long has carried the testimony, “In God we trust.”

Very well. Yet for what are we supposed to be thankful? For life — this life. For liberty, the ultimate cause. For the abundance blessed Americans, especially, enjoy. For our uniquely privileged, and guaranteed, pursuit of happiness.

That’s the standard stuff. What follows is a blend of the general and the particular — the serious combined with some back-of-the-classroom irreverence. The sentiment of but a single grateful American, it could be, should be, revamped and rewritten in 300 million versions.

I am thankful for the courage and dedication — the abiding persistence — of our sentinels in the military on the front lines of freedom, and for their turning our Iraq enterprise into what now may be a rout.

For a president who comprehends the essence of jihadist terror and its ambitions on me and thee, and has the moxie — the grit — to fight it.

For melody and music, as opposed to the raucous noise that these days too often passes for them.

For truth and beauty, daisies, gold, ingenuity, fountains, Labrador retrievers. For rain spattering on leaves and sliding down windows. For the privilege to be greeted by the sun every morning, and each day to roll on one’s back in life like a King Charles cavalier.

For discipline of the body and mind — indeed for anything that keeps the body moving and the mind working. (Said the great Frank Herbert, author of the “Dune” series: “Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.”)

For the bald eagle redux.

For turkeys sacrificing for our gastronomic satisfaction.

For kids, teachers, doctors and nurses. For the men and women who get up early each day, and go to bed too late, to raise the young and stoke the nation’s engines.

For the still small voice.

For those still reading books in this drear electronic hour.


Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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