Thanksgiving is clearly a time for self reflection and giving thanks. A friend asked me what I was personally most thankful for, and here is the note I sent him:
“I took the time to SELF REFLECT on the question and realized I am truly thankful and grateful for 86,400 things — they are the number of seconds each of us have every day of our lives!!!! The key is to make the most of every set of 86,400 seconds we are given each day.”
I also received a Thanksgiving note from a special person, John Hamre, the CEO of CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), which I have shared below. John does a wonderful job of summarizing the history of Thanksgiving and what it means to him (and many of us). I hope you find his message as inspiring as I have!
Rather than sending out a Christmas/New Year’s card, this year I want to establish a new tradition for CSIS, and that is to send a greeting during Thanksgiving. Let me share a bit of background for you.
The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces back to President Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln called for a national observance of Thanksgiving in 1863, during the height of the American Civil War. Thanksgiving today in America is an entirely nonreligious holiday. But for Abraham Lincoln, it had strong religious grounding. Lincoln spoke about the “gracious gifts of the Most High God,” and he delineated the gifts of freedom, liberty, opportunity, and prosperity.
I reflect on my world. This has been a dramatic and unsettling year. But it has reinforced my view that we have an unbelievable array of blessings. We live in a country that encourages free speech, honors personal liberty and freedom, enshrines rule of law, encourages individual enterprise, supports civil society, and promotes a common good.
I am surrounded by a small army of committed and energetic colleagues. They are motivated by a conviction that ideas matter in life; that good government is a benefit to all; that problems have a rational and constructive solution; and that hope is a powerful force that needs to be harnessed by pragmatism and knowledge.
And I am buoyed by a remarkable group of supporters—like you. I am lifted by their desire for a stronger and better world. I am raised by their creative ideas and drive to make progress in a world that needs change. I am inspired by their initiatives.
I am the most fortunate man in the world. I live in a world of possibilities, surrounded by people like you who have a commitment to make a better tomorrow.
I am thankful. Thanksgiving is my time of the year. It is the time I think of everyone—friends like you—who have made this a world I want to live in and improve.
So, at the outset of a holiday season, I write this letter of Thanksgiving. You are in my mind now and in the hearts of all of us at CSIS.
John J. Hamre
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decisionmakers.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!