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Much to be thankful for
Much to be thankful for (Chelsea Carr/For The Aegis)

Each year at this time, thanks to the pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, many of us take stock of what we have to be thankful for and to whom we should offer our thanks.

The pilgrims, as we were taught year after year in elementary school, observed the first Thanksgiving in the New World sharing their thanks and their blessings with the natives who had long inhabited this land.

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Then, supposedly, Lincoln, while president during the Civil War, declared that Thanksgiving be a holiday. It was observed willy-nilly and state-to-state over the generations until just after the Great Depression took hold in 1929. That’s when Roosevelt, as president, has been blamed for trying to use it to spark the retail economy. Soon after, he declared the fourth Thursday in November to be the federal Thanksgiving holiday.

Since it’s Thanksgiving, or more precisely next Thursday is Thanksgiving, there will be traveling for some and staying at home for others. Family and friends will gather to share their blessings and their holiday feasts.

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Most years, there’s some sort of turmoil politically, socially or otherwise. Some years we can feel it and acknowledge that it’s roiling us. Other years, we don’t. This is one of those years when things in our country seem more than just a bit chaotic.

From national politics to sexual misconduct scandals, these are seedy times.

Often times, the faces, the names and the places change, but the uneasiness from year to year and from Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving doesn’t.

Fifty years ago, some of our Fellow Americans were far from home on battlefields in Vietnam. Twenty-five years later, some of our Fellow Americans were far from home on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq. Next week, some of our Fellow Americans will be far from home on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Men and women protecting us, our country and our freedoms are not only off to foreign lands during war, but also during times of peace.

Thankfully, though being out of the country by definition is being in harm’s way, many of our men and women are not in combat zones. That’s something for which some families can be thankful.

Not everyone can be thankful that they have a home because they don’t. Not everyone can be thankful that they have others with whom they can share the holiday, because they don’t.

Fortunately for those folks, Harford County is blessed to have churches and other groups serving community dinners for those in need of either a free meal, or just a place where they can go to share a holiday and it’s feast with others.

St. Margaret Catholic Church in Bel Air plans to deliver all the fixins for 300 families to prepare their own feasts. In Havre de Grace, there will be a Thanksgiving Dinner for the 29th straight year.

That feast started as a community service project for Havre de Grace High School students that morphed into its current state as a production of the Community Projects of Havre de Grace group.

Through all of its changes in sponsors, leaders or venues, the free holiday meals have just kept coming.

This will be an unusual dinner in that it will be the first without Rich Holly, a longtime volunteer and leader of the event. He passed away in February, leaving a big void, at age 70.

Many families, after losing loved ones in the past year, will for the first time feel painful absences, just as the Community Projects of Havre de Grace group will after Holly’s passing.

And that’s all the more reason to be thankful for what you have and who you’re with this Thanksgiving.

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