You know the drill. We answer this question: “what are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?” And, in one way or another, people always answer “family,” – or, at least, the people who are “like family.” I share that sentiment. I am so very grateful for my family.
But this year, I add Dwight Eisenhower to my list. Because he made sure that this nation has a true, comprehensive, highway system – what we call the “Interstate Highway System,” but is actually named “The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.” It was his experience in Germany at the end of the Second World War that taught him the value of such a system, so it was a classic “I see it, I get it, let’s copy/adapt it, now let’s implement it” leadership initiative.
It was a costly project, and took 35 years to complete (and it is still being repaired, expanded)… We forget just how big a role this played in the expansion and mobility of our nation. When we lived in California, we made the drive back to Texas quite a few times, and our family drove to see us a number of times. The Interstate Highway System absolutely made that more possible.
So, why I am so grateful for this on this Thanksgiving weekend? Because, after Thanksgiving dinner today with part of our family, we will drive on one of these highways to see the rest of our family on this Thanksgiving weekend. We leave for San Antonio to see our son, his wife, and their daughter (our granddaughter), and hopefully our drive will go smoothly, pretty quickly (they’ve even raised the speed limit on portions of the drive), giving us more time to spend with our family.
We really should remember the decisions made and the money and the hard work invested earlier in our lifetimes (or even before our lives began), that make so much possible in our lives today. These were great gifts to generations to come. And we are grateful.
I think the money and the effort were worth it — don’t you?
And, I wonder, what costly, bold decisions are we making today that will serve the generations to come?
Back in my preaching days, I had the challenge of preaching a thanksgiving sermon each year. I loved the challenge – there is, always, so much to be thankful for.
I remember my favorite Thanksgiving “story.” It was told by the great British Preacher W. E. Sangster. He told of one woman who simply refused to be grateful for anything. He pushed her, and prodded her, demanding that she find one thing she was grateful for. She finally said: “I suppose I’m grateful that my last two teeth hit each other.”
Well, there is one recent, wildly popular book, that is, in reality, one long Thanksgving paean. It is Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. He demonstrates that success is the result of so many different influences; the 10,000 hours of practice (deliberate practice); culture, family. But he ends the book with his own grateful remembrance of where his success came from. You’ll need to read the last chapter on your own to get the full context of these thoughts. Here’s the really terrific last paragraph of his book:
My great-great-great-grandmother was bought at Alligator Pond. That act, in turn, gave her son, John Ford, the privilege of a skin color that spared him a life of slavery. The culture of possibility that Daisy Ford embraced and put to use so brilliantly on behalf of her daughters was passed on to her by the peculiarities of the West Indian social structure. And my mother’s education was the product of the riots of 1937 and the industriousness of Mr. Chance. These were history’s gifts to my family — and if the resources of that grocer, the fruits of those riots, the possibilities of that culture, and the privileges of that skin tone had been extended to others, how many more would now live a life of fulfillment, in an beautiful house high on a hill?
“history’s gifts to my family…” — Happy Thanksgiving!