Tomorrow is the day set aside in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln as a national Day of Thanksgiving, a tradition that became law in 1941. Both years were eventful ones in our nation's history: in 1863 the Civil War had been raging for more than two years, its outcome still in doubt, and in 1941 the United States was about to enter the war raging across Europe and the Pacific.
This year we are at yet another crucial point in the history of our city, our country and our world. The scars of September 11, 2001 are still with us and will remain open and hurting for years to come. The city faces the worst financial crisis since the mid-1970s. News of job losses and cuts in city services bombards us at every turn.
It would appear at first glance that there is little to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day 2002. However, thoughtful reflection reveals that this is far from an accurate assessment of the situation.
Unemployment rates are rising, but millions of New Yorkers still have jobs. Subways and buses are crowded and sometimes not as clean as they might be, but this city still has one of the most outstanding mass transportation systems in the world. The budget crunch has not impinged on city services—streets are still cleaned, garbage is regularly collected, parks and playgrounds are still maintained for everyone to enjoy. City police officers and firefighters are still the finest and bravest anywhere. They and the excellent Emergency Medical Services unit, stand ready to assist any resident, commuter or tourist whenever called upon.
The families of the victims of September 11, and other violent incidents will never gather around a holiday table feeling whole and complete again. We who still have families can be thankful we still can join with our loved ones this year.
We have taken the lessons of 2001 to heart. Security has been upgraded in nearly all facets of life in the United States. A new Department of Homeland Security promises to make America an even safer place to live and work. We can be thankful we have proven our ability to rise above adversity and become a better, stronger nation.
All things considered, we can consider ourselves rich in the strength and courage we have demonstrated, individually and as a nation. This Thanksgiving Day 2002 finds us willing to give thanks and to share our bounty with those less fortunate as well. In our altruism and selflessness we truly demonstrate how much we have to be thankful for.
We count our readers among our many blessings. We wish each and every one a Happy Thanksgiving.