It’s fitting to set aside time each year to express gratitude to God and to one another for the many blessings we enjoy. In seasons of peace and plenty, as well as in times of war and loss, Americans have faithfully carried on Thanksgiving traditions. During challenging times, it’s even more important to remember the abundant blessings we enjoy as Americans.
In 2001, President George W. Bush issued a Thanksgiving proclamation a couple months after the tragic September 11th terrorist attacks. The sentiments he expressed ring true this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“During these extraordinary times, we find particular assurance from our Thanksgiving tradition, which reminds us that we, as a people and individually, always have reason to hope and trust in God, despite great adversity….In thankfulness and humility, we acknowledge, especially now, our dependence on One greater than ourselves. On this day of Thanksgiving, let our thanksgiving be revealed in the compassionate support we render to our fellow citizens who are grieving unimaginable loss; and let us reach out with care to those in need of food, shelter, and words of hope. May Almighty God, who is our refuge and our strength in this time of trouble, watch over our homeland, protect us, and grant us patience, resolve, and wisdom in all that is to come.”
As we finish 2020, let’s draw strength from the example of previous American generations who have overcome war, economic depression, disaster, and even pandemics. Let’s use our Nebraska grit to slow the spread of the virus as we get through this together.
At Thanksgiving time, we usually join with friends and family for a large meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. This year, Nebraskans are holding smaller gatherings—or getting together virtually—to slow the spread of coronavirus. Even if you’re unable to gather with family this holiday, find a way to stay connected by phone or video. It’s important for us to support one another as we cope with the disruptions of the coronavirus.
Although Thanksgiving in 2020 may look different for you, there are still plenty of reasons to give thanks. Here are a few that come to mind for me. As Americans, we’re blessed to live in a time of relative peace. Even with the disruptions of the coronavirus, we enjoy prosperity that would have been unimaginable to the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock. Our Constitution allows for us to exercise many freedoms: religious freedom, freedom of the press, and the freedom of speech. Many military servicemen and women put their lives on the line every day to protect our Republic and these freedoms. We are grateful for their service and sacrifice.
Our free country and free enterprise system have given us great prosperity. In the midst of this pandemic, we’re blessed with technology to connect with loved ones living far away. We’re blessed to have excellent health care. We’re blessed to live in a scientifically advanced country with the capability of rapidly developing vaccines.
Despite the pandemic, Nebraska is expected to experience a bountiful harvest this year. Nebraska’s corn growers are forecasted to bring in a record of 1.82 billion bushels. Soybean production is up 5% from last year to about 300 million bushels. The sorghum crop of 12.4 million bushels is also projected to exceed last year’s numbers. Dry edible bean production is forecasted to be up 85% from 2019, and sugar beet production is expected be 38% higher than last year.
This year, we are especially grateful for our healthcare workers. Nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and public health leaders are on the front lines working long hours to help Nebraskans stay healthy during the pandemic. As we enter this holiday season, our hospitals are counting on Nebraskans to be smart in their social interactions to help slow the spread of coronavirus. We all need to do our part to help them by wearing a mask, washing our hands often, and watching our distance. Nebraskans are hard-working folks, and we don’t like to be on the sidelines. It’s critically important, however, for everyone to stay home when sick to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Our Local Health Departments tell us the virus is spreading at informal gatherings, usually in people’s homes. As you think about celebrating the holidays, please keep gatherings small and avoid the “Three Cs”, even in private settings. Avoid crowded places where you can’t practice social distancing. Avoid close contacts where you’re within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or more. And avoid confined spaces with poor ventilation. Using these tools is the best way to support our healthcare workers and protect our hospitals.
If you have questions about Nebraska’s coronavirus response, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. I am grateful to the Nebraskans who’ll be working this Thanksgiving weekend to help folks stay healthy in hospitals and nursing homes. I wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.