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Editorial: We are still a nation blessed

It is a quaint tradition still carried on at many holiday tables: Pause for a few minutes before the Thanksgiving meal to recount the many ways in which youy are blessed.

Doing so helps to refocus us toward our good fortune and away from our complaints, dissatisfactions and burdens.

It would be a particularly good exercise this year, with so many Americans so unhappy about so many things.

COVID-19 stubbornly persists and keeps us from a full return to our normal way of life. Prices are spiking, making balancing the household budget a challenge. Our nation has suffered horrific, recent acts of violence. 

And we are perhaps as culturally and politically divided as we have been in a half a century.

But we still live in the greatest nation on earth. And from the first Thanksgiving to the one we celebrate today, we've understood how lucky that makes us. We've also recognized the importance of pausing to reflect on that good fortune.

Elsewhere on this page, you'll find President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation, issued in 1863 with the misery and bloodshed of the Civil War raging across the land. Soldiers were still dying in battle by the tens of thousands. Grief touched nearly every home. And the future of the Union was much in doubt. 

While acknowledging the turmoil and suffering, Lincoln then listed the many ways in which the nation had been blessed, from a bountiful harvest to peace abroad to an economy that had weathered the storm of war.

These blessings, Lincoln proclaimed, "are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People."

If Lincoln could find reasons for gratitude even in America's darkest hour, so should we in this latest time of distress. So let us start:

A miraculous vaccine offers a way out of the plague that has afflicted us over the past two years. All we have to do is take it.

The job market is rebounding at a torrid pace. In most places in America, there is now a job for anyone who wants one. And salaries are rising, too, helping to offset the higher prices.

We are at peace with the world for the first time in two decades. While the end of the war in Afghanistan was messy, it is at least and at last ended. 

Schools are mostly open again, although with some restrictions. Our children can sit at their desks before a teacher and can enjoy sports and other activities with their friends.

The economy is strong and growing. The stock markets are at record highs. Businesses are posting profits and investors are reaping solid returns.

For those of us who made it safely through the pandemic, we appreciate more than ever the blessing of good health.

Yes, there are myriad excuses to grumble and complain about everything in the world that is not right.

But not today. Today, let's just say thank you for the things that are. Happy Thanksgiving.