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The Bedrock of America

Thanksgiving is much more than being thankful and remembering the Pilgrims and Indians’ first feast. It reminds us why the Pilgrims came: for the freedom to worship.

  • Longboat Key
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Kirsten Hazelton, a second-grade teacher at Southside Elementary School in Sarasota, gave her students an assignment for Veterans Day. One of those students, Rhys Parry, 7, wrote a letter to his uncle, a captain in the Marine Corps Raiders, its special forces division.

Young Parry thanked his uncle for serving. And by way of every child’s uncanny ability to state simple, direct truths and profound common sense, young Parry wrote:

“Freedom is the best thing in the world.”

If only every American took that to heart. Especially today. What a tragedy that so many don’t appreciate that truth. They take their freedom for granted, oblivious to this extraordinary gift.

So be thankful today. Block out the noise; the national politics; the cultural strife; and the depravity that has consumed us in 2017. As you gather with family and friends for your traditional Thanksgiving feast, we take this space this week to urge our readers to take stock, at least for a few minutes. 

If you think deeply enough about the meaning of Thanksgiving, there is so much more to this day than being thankful for the bounty on our tables. So much more to Thanksgiving than the story of the Plymouth Colony Pilgrims celebrating the harvest with the Wampanoag Indians in 1621, or thanking God for the end of the drought in 1622.

To a great extent, the first Thanksgivings were the celebratory culminations of the miraculous journey of a small band of Europeans in search of a place to be free — to be free to practice their religion and their way of life.

That was their raison d’etre — freedom of religion. And today, you can say that principle is the fundamental rock, the bedrock, the perpetual birthstone of America. 

And yet, here we are, almost 400 years later, continuing  to fight for that right and principle. And if you think about that, consider also what it will require. Take inspiration from the courage of the Pilgrims and their long, harrowing journey from England to Holland to Plymouth Rock. 

We’ve made a tradition of re-telling the story and roots of Thanksgiving, because the story of the Pilgrims helps reset our compass. It reminds us how we came to be — the New Hope in the New World. It reminds us of why we came to be. It reminds us of the price our ancestors paid to be free and to be free to worship as they wished. It reminds us to be thankful for all the blessings we have. And it reminds us that Rhys Parry is right: 

“Freedom is the best thing in the world.” … 

Happy Thanksgiving.



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