November 27, 2008
I am thankful I was born the same year as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, a period of great hope and change after World War II ended … because the last 25 years have not been favorable to the middle class.
I am thankful my grandmother was strong enough to raise 7 children alone during the great depression after her husband died…because many families would not have survived intact.
I am thankful my Grandmother had a green thumb and passed on her love of growing flowers and vegetables through my father to us…because not much beats the joy of eating fruits and vegetables fresh from my own garden.
I am thankful I grew up in a family with one sister and three brothers who were nurtured and loved… because I know there are children who are not.
I am thankful I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood still considered rural and where every joyous day was like living on a farm…because I know children grow up not understanding the blessings of a country of such enormous bounty.
I am thankful I earned money cutting grass and doing gardening for neighbors and learned to appreciate our environment and my relationship and responsibility to the earth…because hopefully, there are enough of us who cherish this earth, to keep it from being destroyed.
I am thankful I grew up in an economically diverse neighborhood; with doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers, business owners, firemen, policeman, factory workers, construction workers and labors living in the same community…because with the stark separation of classes today, some can’t appreciate the struggles some families endure just to survive.
I am thankful my parents and neighbors would not hesitate to help someone in need and I learned a community is as strong as its weakest link…because too many people believe no one needs or deserves a hand up.
I am thankful my father, an engineer in the steel mills who worked with people of all races, taught us by example to respect people of all colors…because I realize discrimination and bigotry is passed on from generation to generation.
I am thankful I went to a great Chicago public grammar school with wonderful teachers…because I know some people believe we should not have free public education.
I am thankful I went to a great public high school with wonderful teachers, when I did…because I realize the drop out rate at Chicago public high schools, is now much too high.I am thankful I lived in Alaska long enough to appreciate what a remarkable place it is…because if the oil interests get their way, future generations will not get the same privilege.
I am thankful that I finished my 3 years in the Army before the Viet Nam war escalated and without having to shoot anyone…because there are many Viet Nam and Iraq veterans who can never forget they killed another human being and live every day with that burden.
I am thankful the army taught me communications and electronics…because my family could not afford to send all of us to college.
I am thankful when I got out of the Army, there were many good paying jobs available for people willing to work hard but with only a high school education …because now all those jobs are gone to countries with low wages, no benefits and no protection for workers or the environment.
I am thankful for the many labor unions I was part of for more than 40 years…because unions gave the American worker a middle-class standard of living that was the envy of the entire world.
I am thankful to be called blue collar and proudly wear that blue uniform…because for me, the uniform pays tribute to the sacrifices of the organizers and founding members of the American labor movement.
I am thankful there were vast numbers of excellent manufacturing companies in Chicago, companies like Campbell’s Soup and Johnson & Johnson, where I worked for many years… because whole communities prospered around those economic engines.
I am thankful these companies offered apprenticeship and training programs and were willing to give a hand up to veterans like myself…because I became an electrician and was able to support my family, attend community college and buy a home with help from the G.I. bill.
I am thankful that, after being the victim of a predatory mortgage lender and losing that home, and having to live in my van for months, I had loyal friends and family who helped us through some really tough times…because some families suffering through this current mortgage foreclosure crisis, may not have anyone to turn to for help.
I am thankful I was strong enough to survive foreclosure and bankruptcy…because many families do not, and end up homeless and living on the street.
I am thankful for the social security checks I receive, after contributing for more than 40 years…because without them, I might be living on the streets with some of my fellow veterans.
I am thankful for the “Together We Cope” food bank where I try to contribute food every week…because those who have lost jobs and homes and pensions and who need help may not survive without it.
I am thankful I have medical insurance through my former employer and the Veterans Administration Clinic…because almost 50 million Americans have no health insurance and our economy cannot survive and prosper under those circumstances.
I am thankful there were many volunteers and churches that helped and are still helping the victims of Katrina and the people of New Orleans and other cities…because our government failed them miserably.
I am thankful we have a government however…because without it, we would not have a civil society.
I am thankful the troop serge has helped stabilize Iraq…because the poor souls there deserve better.
I am thankful for the servicemen and women and their families who have sacrificed greatly by serving in Iraq and Afghanistan…because without their dedication, this unnecessary war would be an even greater disaster.
I am thankful the last eight years are almost over and we did not elect John McCain…because the world could not survive another term like the last.
I am thankful the world is welcoming President Obama with open arms and a sigh of relief…because it shows they believe America can still lead us from this despair.
I am thankful Barack Obama realizes we all have to work together to solve these enormous problems… because being divided is what got us into this mess.
I am thankful that, although I am not financially wealthy, I appreciate the important things, family, friends and community…because we must depend on each other.
I am thankful America has chosen Barack Obama to be our next president…because I believe he and Michelle understand why and for what I am thankful.
I am hopefully thankful that 60 years from now, people will be glad they were born in 2009 because it was the beginning of another period of great hope and change… and not because they’re sorry to have been born into another great depression.
I am thankful I live in a country where everyone can express their opinions and there still are newspapers where we can offer those opinion… because one of the joys of my childhood was getting the Sunday papers after our parents were finished reading them.
John A. Hanno