Gratitude, Even in November 2012
What we’re thankful for.

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, by Jennie A. Brownscombe (1850-1936)


It’s been a disappointing month for many in this part of the World Wide Web. But there remains much to be thankful for. National Review friends and family gather here to give a little thanks.

In 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, fleeing religious persecution and enduring great hardship to establish a new home where they could worship freely and practice their faith. The story of the Pilgrims reminds us today that there are things worth fighting and sacrificing for. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for their example and I will tell my kids of their courage and moral fortitude and of our own family’s responsibility to stand up for religious liberty in our time. 

Thanksgiving is a perfect time for all Americans of faith to thank our God, from whom our rights come, and our forefathers, who fought to preserve them. It is a time to recommit to the defense of our first and most important right — our right to practice our religion free from government interference. And hey, it wouldn’t kill us to sing “My Country ’Tis of Thee” around the Thanksgiving table this year.

“ . . . Land where our fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!”

May you and your loved ones have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

— Rachel Campos-Duffy is a mother of six, an author, a pundit, and the wife of Congressman Sean Duffy.

After I drive to Yardley, Pa., to visit my parents, I’ll throw my bag on my childhood bed, walk to the kitchen, and grab a can of root beer from the refrigerator. Then I’ll take a drive through the leafy Philadelphia suburbs, past my high school, and past the crowded soccer fields and empty baseball fields where I used to spend most of my days. But it’s more than a trip down memory lane. I’m on my way to two quiet spots for a few minutes of prayer and thanks.

Yardley is home to many historic sites, but visits to two places always seem to jolt my gratitude nerve. First up is the Garden of Reflection, a beautiful memorial park tucked behind some oak trees. The first thing you see there is a piece of scrap metal from the World Trade Center. It’s rusted and jagged and slices the air. Behind the metal, there is a pair of bubbling fountains surrounded by granite. The smooth rock is covered with the names of those who died on 9/11.

The rocky, shallow Delaware River is down the road. I park next to a cannon near the water. This is where George Washington and his band of ragged, near-frozen soldiers launched their surprise attack on the Hessians. As they stepped into the heavy Durham boats on Christmas Day, 1776, they were stepping into peril, but they persevered and won an important victory. You can almost hear their ghosts as you walk along the muddy banks.

These two stops never take more than hour. Sometimes I’ll bring a friend or sibling, other times I’ll go alone.

Thanksgiving is about family and old friends, about reconnecting and reminiscing. It’s about turkey and stuffing, college football and cold beer. But it’s also about remembering, about being thankful for those who have sacrificed. Since our founding, America has seen much tragedy and challenge, but we still carry on, hopeful and thankful.

— Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.

As we begin a twelfth holiday season since September 11, I’m thankful for a nation that has enough fortitude — a culture that cultivates enough courage — to fight our longest war with an all-volunteer force.

Through recessions and recoveries, through victories and setbacks, and even as casualty counts have risen ever higher, our nation has produced every year hundreds of thousands of men and women willing to risk everything rather than sit at home and enjoy the fruits of the most prosperous nation in world history.

Our culture has many problems, but we still value courage, and we still raise enough courageous young people to carry on the legacy of valor that has defined and shaped our nation. And for that, I am exceedingly grateful.

David French is co-author of Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War.