The postings began to spontaneously appear on Nov. 1 and have grown in number each day as people publicly count their blessings. Some have expressed thanks for family and friends, others for the simple pleasures of life, such as music and laughter. Some expressed thanks for our nation’s veterans and the liberty we enjoy. The Facebook list grows longer each day as more and more people catch the spirit and remember that the point of this holiday is to be thankful.
A brief review of the history of Thanksgiving reminds me it is deeply rooted in the religious belief that a thankful heart brings hope and contentment into our lives. An attitude of gratitude, even in these difficult economic times, is a powerful tool that can dramatically improve your life and the lives of those around you.
Thanksgiving traces its origins to the Plymouth Plantation where settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season in 1621. In 1777, the Continental Congress recommended, “to the legislative or executive Powers of these United States to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise: That at one time and with one voice, the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their divine benefactor.” In 1789, President George Washington announced the first Thanksgiving Day created by the national government. He proclaimed, “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits.” In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a “national day of thanksgiving.”
Someone once said that “an attitude of gratitude spreads like ripples from a tossed pebble, benefiting all it touches.” Showing this attitude is not always easy. Too often the bad things stick in our memories more easily than the good. However, making a conscious choice to be thankful can have an amazing, positive effect upon one’s mental outlook. It also helps us remember that the hard times often make the good times sweeter.
In the face of the nation’s economic uncertainty, I have begun to focus on the things we often take for granted. I am thankful for a life shared with my wife, Sonya, and our children, good health, shelter from the cold, enough food, and fond memories of loved ones who will not be with me this Thanksgiving.
As mayor, I have also taken inventory of our community’s many blessings. It has given me a bright outlook for the future of Bradley County.
I am thankful that the economic downturn seems to be reversing itself more quickly in our region. I am grateful that hundreds of county residents are now going to work each day at new jobs generated by Amazon.com. I am thankful that hundreds more will soon be filling new positions at the Wacker plant now under construction in North Bradley County. I join many other Bradley County residents in giving thanks for the VW plant which is providing jobs for many of our citizens just five minutes from our county line.
I am thankful for a very broad industrial base which has kept our county’s unemployment rate below the state and national average. Companies like Whirlpool, Olin Chemical, Peyton’s, Johnston Coca-Cola, GE’s lighting distribution center and many more are heavily invested in our community and I am thankful for their faith in Bradley County.
I am thankful that we have an educated workforce to offer to potential industries interested in locating here. I am thankful for a wonderful quality of life, low taxes and hundreds of volunteers who work alongside city and county staff to plan and develop a community where people want to live and work.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge each one to change your focus from the things we don’t have and be thankful for what we do have. I also ask that you remember our troops and be thankful for their willingness to place themselves in harm’s way. They are dedicated to protecting our freedom that we might enjoy this special day with family and friends.
On Thanksgiving Day and every day, let’s be reminded of how great it is to live in such a wonderful community as Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County.
My family and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.