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Holidays are times to reflect, help others

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POSTED: November 28, 2009 11:04 a.m.
As the holidays approach each year, we prepare for family visits, big feasts, gift exchanges and begin to reflect on the past year. Georgia has seen a tough year with the fallen financial and housing markets, job reductions and flooding that destroyed many homes, businesses and land. The affects have left many Georgians preparing a little differently this year.
Thanksgiving reminds us to put aside our personal and political differences for at least one day to pause with family, friends and neighbors to give thanks for all we have. This holiday has been observed in various forms and dates since the founding of our country with our first presidents issuing Thanksgiving proclamations each year of their presidencies. It wasn’t until 1789 when President George Washington declared the First National Day of Thanksgiving and Public Prayer saying:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.’ Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
We are truly blessed to live in a country rich in freedom and opportunity. It is so easy to take for granted and forget what it means to be an American. Americans are innately generous and charitable. Much of this comes from our Judeo-Christian background. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” or “Love you neighbor as your self” are all themes we recognize.
These days, simple acts of charity are the greatest services you can give. Some neighbors need help and support now more than ever. Many families were displaced from the floods or foreclosures. Some have sons, daughters, spouses or other family members serving in harms way to keep each of us safe. Others have had to tighten family budgets with job losses or reduction in pay. Times of such widespread challenges and difficulties call for us to give more than a moment or two of thanks and remember those around us.
Some of the most powerful and meaningful acts of charity never get seen and are seldom read about. This year, help a neighbor in need. Practice compassionate conservatism and good stewardship by helping those less fortunate through contributions to food banks so others can have their own holiday meals. Give thanks to the military family down the street for their family member standing in harms way to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or even invite a neighbor to join your family for a meal. Maybe it is simply looking up and thanking an old school teacher or mentor who impacted you at a young age and made a difference in your life.
Despite having to tighten our budgets and realizing we may have less than in previous years, let us take a moment to be thankful for our loved ones. We should also remember to be thankful that we live in a nation that values freedom, liberty and opportunity for all.
I wish you and your family a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.

Williams is president pro tempore of the Senate. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached at 9404) 656-0089 or by email at tommie.williams@Senate.ga.gov.
 

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