President Obama used his weekly address to remind us that Thanksgiving is a time to put aside our differences after a hard fought campaign. He said, “Thanksgiving is a chance to put it all in perspective – to remember that, despite our differences, we are, and always will be, Americans first and foremost.” The President also reminded Americans of their great spirit in times of crisis, noting the families still suffering after Hurricane Sandy.
Obama reminded us why we can be grateful that he is our president by saying, “When our brothers and sisters are in need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work – not for the recognition or the reward, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because there but for the grace of God go I.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA: On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Bo – I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.
For us, like so many of you, this is a day full of family and friends; food and football. It’s a day to fight the overwhelming urge to take a nap – at least until after dinner. But most of all, it’s a time to give thanks for each other, and for the incredible bounty we enjoy.
That’s especially important this year. As a nation, we’ve just emerged from a campaign season that was passionate, noisy, and vital to our democracy. But it also required us to make choices – and sometimes those choices led us to focus on what sets us apart instead of what ties us together; on what candidate we support instead of what country we belong to.
Thanksgiving is a chance to put it all in perspective – to remember that, despite our differences, we are, and always will be, Americans first and foremost.
Today we give thanks for blessings that are all too rare in this world. The ability to spend time with the ones we love; to say what we want; to worship as we please; to know that there are brave men and women defending our freedom around the globe; and to look our children in the eye and tell them that, here in America, no dream is too big if they’re willing to work for it.
We’re also grateful that this country has always been home to Americans who see these blessings not simply as gifts to enjoy, but as opportunities to give back. Americans who believe we have a responsibility to look out for those less fortunate – to pull each other up and move forward together.
Right now, as we prepare to gather around our dinner tables, there are families in the northeast who don’t have that luxury. Many of them have lost everything to Hurricane Sandy – homes, possessions, even loved ones. And it will be a long time before life goes back to normal.
But in the midst of so much tragedy, there are also glimmers of hope. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen FEMA personnel, National Guard and first responders working around the clock in hard-hit communities. We’ve seen hospital workers using their lunch breaks to distribute supplies. Families offering up extra bedrooms. The fire department advertising free hot showers. Buses full of volunteers coming from hundreds of miles away. Neighbors sharing whatever they have – food, water, electricity – and saying again and again how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads.
It would have been easy for these folks to do nothing – to worry about themselves and leave the rest to someone else. But that’s not who we are. That’s not what we do.
As Americans, we are a bold, generous, big-hearted people. When our brothers and sisters are in need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work – not for the recognition or the reward, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because there but for the grace of God go I. And because here in America, we rise or fall together, as one nation and one people.
That’s something to be grateful for – today and every day.
So to all the Americans doing your part to make our world a better place – it is my privilege to serve as your President. To all our servicemembers – it is my honor to be your Commander in Chief. And from our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.
You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the importance of a leader who reminds the people, “there but for the grace of God go I.”
It is a humbling experience to find yourself on the bad end of uncontrollable events, and wise leaders know that a nation that pulls together in crisis is a strong nation. Rather than blame the individuals or leave them to suffer alone, our strength as a nation comes from pulling together, looking after our brothers and sisters.
Grace is found everywhere in this country; in our teachers, parents, first responders, friends, family, community, troops, strangers, random acts of kindness, places of worship and more – but most of all, it’s found inside of us. It reminds us that while we are each special, we are not more deserving than our neighbor. It reminds us that in helping our fellow citizens get through tough times, we serve something bigger than ourselves. It teaches us that bad things can and do happen to good people, and so we don’t judge our neighbor’s situation or circumstance.
Grace. There’s a lot to be said for it.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.