I could start out by giving you an account of the history of how the first settlers came to the new world, and I will, but not yet.

I could start out by giving you an account of the history of how the first settlers came to the new world, and I will, but not yet.

I’m thankful for the beautiful full moon I’ve seen this past week. I’m thankful that my daughter and I landed safely Monday night, as I visited with a priest from St. Nicholas Parish who lives in Hays, Kan., who sat next to me. I’m thankful for his outreach efforts to help those who have been and are being abused in their own homes.

I’m thankful that I woke up this morning, and could see, hear, taste and smell. I’m thankful for the medications that we have today that enable us to live when death would otherwise be inevitable. I am thankful that I have children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and a church family who love and care about me. I am thankful that I have a job that puts a roof over our heads and keeps us warm and dry, and for food to nourish us.

I am thankful for organizations like Hope House, Hillcrest Ministries, the Community Services League, the Salvation Army and others who help so many in our community to get through these tough times. I am thankful for the people who support these organizations that can only exist with monetary and volunteer support.

I am thankful for the teachers who work long hours to educate our children, tutor them, coach their sports teams, direct their bands and orchestras and theaters. I am thankful for businesses, especially local, family-owned businesses that work so hard to keep their doors open and provide such excellent services to our city and surrounding communities. I’m thankful for the media, especially The Examiner, for providing local news and an outlet for the freedom of expression by printing and posting online opposing viewpoints for all of us to consider.

There are days when the pressures of the economic collapse, skyrocketing unemployment rates, increasing distrust of government and politicians, seemingly never-ending natural disasters and moral decay of our nation make us feel hopeless and powerless to change anything in this world. Remember, we are the people, and the people are the voice of change.

When the Mayflower set sail from England, in September 1620, it carried 102 men, women and children and about 26 crew members. They decided it was time to change things, and it wasn’t without sacrifice.

They arrived at Plymouth Massachusetts on Dec. 26, 1620. Over the next few months they rowed to shore every day to build their new settlement. Construction of their homes, church and other buildings was completed in March 1621. During that time, half of the people died of colds, influenza, pneumonia and other disease.

These courageous souls celebrated their first Thanksgiving in 1621 with a meal of venison, wild turkeys, cod, bass, clams, mussels, lobster, eel, nuts, squash, beans, wheat, barley, peas, wild fruits and berries, vegetables and Indian corn.

Known as pilgrims or separatists, they desired freedom from oppression by the English Church and government. That first Thanksgiving was a community feast at Plymouth. Local American Indians, who had befriended them, taught them how to cultivate crops and store them for future hardships. Celebrating their harvest was a grand feast with the pilgrims and Indians sharing together. I am thankful for these brave pilgrims and thoughtful, giving Indians.

Today and always, may we give thanks for those who have paved the way so that we might live in the land of the free. Blessings to you this Thanksgiving day.