Each year, Connie and I look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday as a chance to spend time with our family and friends. It gives us a chance to reflect on the blessings that are too often overlooked.
President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. Through the darkest days of war and gravest moments in our nation’s history, Lincoln saw the need to acknowledge our blessings.
Nearly 150 years later, we continue to honor this tradition.
We are blessed in Ohio to have colleges and universities that attract talent from across the country and across the globe. Ohio is home to dedicated teachers who educate our children and first responders who run towards danger when everyone else turns away.
We are also blessed to have thousands of servicemen and women who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our freedoms. To those spending the holidays far away from your loved ones, thank you for your service. On behalf of a grateful state, we wish you a safe and quick return home.
For all our blessings, we know there are challenges. We’re in the midst of rising rates of poverty and income inequality. Last year’s donors to food banks are today’s recipients.
It’s that middle class squeeze that we see most acutely during the holidays – with rising energy, food, and shelter costs undermining any sense of financial security.
Today more than 1.8 million Ohioans live in poverty. One of six Ohio families doesn’t know from where their next meal will come.
Alleviating hunger in America – including hunger for food, work, and a fair shot at providing for loved ones – means eliminating the challenges many working- and middle-class families face. This is a burden we all share and must work together to eliminate.
Ohio is blessed to have communities from Dayton to Youngstown that are dedicated to helping those hit the hardest get back on their feet. Your activism has provided a lifeline to the millions of our friends and neighbors in need, and for that, I thank you.
We know there’s still work to be done, and I encourage all Ohioans to address the issues in their communities.
Volunteer at your local shelter. Teach a child to read. Plant a community garden.
We are never too old, too young, too rich, or too poor to serve.
A Mississippi civil rights leader in the 1960s said: “Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me what you do, and I will tell you what you believe.” We should strive to show our fellow men and women what we do in the quest for social and economic justice.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our own blessings and work to ensure others may have the same.
Connie and I wish all of you a safe Thanksgiving holiday.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.