I know I’m a few days late, but since we are still in the midst of the Thanksgiving holiday, it is never too late to wish friends, family and neighbors the best of what this celebration means to Americans.
It is, after all, a time for people of good will and good cheer to come together to be thankful for what we have — which, at last count, is so much more than people living in most other nations.
This holiday celebration, which can be traced to at least the days of the Pilgrims in the 1600s, was made official by President Abraham Lincoln. It was in the midst of the Civil War when brother was killing brother and friends were killing friends that President Lincoln set aside the fourth Thursday of November to consider the plight of the widows, orphans and family members who had been torn asunder by the war.
Over the years, Thanksgiving has become so much more — including the beginning of the Christmas shopping season — all the while maintaining its original purpose of bringing people of disparate backgrounds together with family and friends to celebrate what we have.
Although it is still difficult for some of us to celebrate the outcome of this year’s presidential election, there is still reason to be grateful. I am grateful that we live in a country governed by a Constitution that allows for elections, however contentious and unsavory they may be, to decide the leadership in our country every four years. At all levels of government, the people speak at the ballot box and then the winners set about to the task of governing.
It remains to be seen just how smoothly that process will go given the myriad of brand new challenges that come with a billionaire’s business interests, which may serve to complicate the simple words written in our Constitution. But we should remain hopeful that, in the end, Congress, the courts and the executive branch will read from the same book.
And let’s not forget the First Amendment to our Constitution. It is No. 1 for a reason. Whether some people like it, the ability of citizens to speak and write as they please — especially to be critical of the government and any public servants who use their positions for self-aggrandizement — must be revered, not reviled. That should be the case even if — or especially if — a president is the subject of a pen’s wrath.
Yes, we should be thankful for the First Amendment, but even more grateful for those who will speak truth to those in power when necessary.
Some eight years after the tumble of Las Vegas in the Great Recession, this also is a time to be thankful that our city is on the move again. Whether it is a football stadium — with or without a team — or T-Mobile Arena, a new music venue on the Strip or a needed expansion and refurbishing of our convention facilities, Las Vegas is showing the world we can continue to re-invent and re-invigorate ourselves. I could be even more thankful if our political leadership guides us toward a transportation solution that looks like it belongs in the 21st century instead of remaining stuck in the car-plagued gridlock of the 20th century.
I am grateful for my friends. Over a lifetime, we tend to pick up many friendships that can withstand the test of time and the contest of elections. Time is kinder than some elections, it seems, but friendships can be forever. They are worth the effort.
In this news business to which I have devoted myself, there are many people to whom I remain and will be forever thankful. We call them readers. Sometimes we agree, sometimes not. But over time, we have built up a respect for one another, an understanding that there is a difference between news, opinion and — something new — made-up “facts.” You have always relied on the Las Vegas Sun and other Greenspun Media Group products for the truth, and we have done our best to make sure we don’t let you down.
In this fact-free world we seem to be living in — for how long is a matter of conjecture — it is crucial that facts and truth win out. Democracy demands that people participate, and the quality of that involvement depends in large measure on the quality of the information upon which we base our decisions.
We live in a time when it is easy to fool so many people most of the time — welcome to the internet — so vigilance and understanding and some critical-thinking skills would be most helpful. We should all be thankful to see that worked out. The sooner the better.
And finally, just like everyone reading this, I am thankful for my family: my wife, my kids and my grandkids. It is why I get up early every Thanksgiving to make the turkey. I know they will show up for however long it takes to feed them.
And that brings me back to the beginning: families being together, friends celebrating each other and a country being thankful for all we have — that is the reason for Thanksgiving.
The turkey may not appreciate the sentiment. But with some mashed potatoes and gravy and some pumpkin pie at the end, well, it really doesn’t get much better than that.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend!
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.