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Our View: Neighbors helping neighbors — it’s what we are all about

Published on November 23, 2017 12:01AM

Volunteers add mashed potatoes to boxes for families at the Warrenton Grade School on Tuesday.

Colin Murphey/The Daily Astorian

Volunteers add mashed potatoes to boxes for families at the Warrenton Grade School on Tuesday.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers.

As we gather around the dining table with our families today, it is fitting to acknowledge that we have much to be thankful for.

In a nation deeply divided by political differences, with so many facing agonizing economic struggles, we can still focus on the good that unites us.

Thanksgiving has its origin in the 1621 feast staged by those Puritan settlers who fled persecution in England, endured an arduous ocean journey, then survived the first year of the Plymouth Colony. They joined with Native Americans to celebrate the first harvest, and set the table for every celebration that followed. George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving for victories in the revolution that created our nation. And Abraham Lincoln solidified the regularity of the celebration during the Civil War.

While in modern times it has morphed into a holiday that combines family gatherings, turkey dinners and televised sports, it retains its deeper meaning.

Many families enjoy a tradition of going around the table and asking each person to mention what they are thankful for. Young and old verbalize their appreciation for America’s freedoms, relationships, pets and the plenty on the table.

On this day, we savor that tradition, too, by considering the many people and things for which we should be thankful. Firstly, it is fitting that we reflect on the contribution of soldiers, sailors, air crews and Marines serving overseas while expressing hope for their safe return.

And spare a thought for those here on the North Coast who are not spending the day with their families.

Right now, police officers and firefighters throughout Clatsop County are on duty, serving and protecting as they do 24/7, year-round, to keep us safe.

Medical personnel are working at Columbia Memorial Hospital, Providence Seaside and Ocean Beach Hospital in Ilwaco, Wash., providing the continuity of care that our ailing neighbors need.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard are risking their lives to protect mariners traversing one of the most treacherous ocean bars on the planet. Their service enriches our community.

Many groups of professionals in our community may be taken for granted. They touch our lives and truly make a difference. But how often do we applaud them?

Fishermen of the Northern Oregon commercial fleet based in our community provide stores and restaurants with the bounty of the ocean year-round, frequently enduring life-threatening conditions to bring in their catch. We thank them.

In classrooms from Seaside to Knappa, teachers are shaping our nation’s future generations with knowledge and the ability to think. Their efforts are rarely recognized at the time, although it is common to hear adults attribute their success to dedicated mentors who shaped their upbringing.

In addition, we should be thankful for the gorgeous environment in which we spend our lives. No big-city sprawl and daily chaos here. Instead, our small-town, rural North Coast communities are surrounded by spectacular natural attractions, from Saddle Mountain to our ocean beaches, plus the relentless beauty of the Columbia River. Let’s never take that for granted. And the best way to demonstrate our thankfulness is to protect it year-round, keeping it free from litter and other man-made spoils.

Our nation offers some freedoms that we should cherish, for they are the envy of the world. The First Amendment to the Constitution — the greatest words ever penned by modern man — guarantees free worship, free assembly and free speech. Those of us in the communications business are especially thankful for the latter, because it drives our very existence. It isn’t reserved for the press, however; it applies to everyone.

As we celebrate all these aspects of our nation of plenty, we should pause to commend those in the North Coast who are doing their part to help the less affluent among us with the basic necessities of life.

There can be few higher callings than providing shelter from the storm, offering nourishing food and a helping hand to those for whom the modern times are a daily struggle for existence. Our less-fortunate neighbors are part of the fabric of our North Coast community. The manner in which we treat them is a reflection of the depth of our caring.

There is so much more. Those round-the-table Thanksgiving pronouncements often feature the smaller things that make life grand — libraries, live music and art. All contribute nuanced pleasure to modern life’s finery. And there are less tangible assets, too, like laughter and smiles. How gloomy life would be without them. Perhaps it is timely to share more?

Anyone who has traveled outside our borders likely has returned with a simple realization that this country offers a combination of more freedom, hope and choice than any other. Today, let’s set aside any differences and worries and instead focus on the good.

We on the North Coast have much to be thankful for.


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