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Remaining Thankful in 2020

For as long as we live, 2020 will likely be remembered as a year defined by loss, frustration, and suffering. Across our great nation, there will be over 250,000 empty chairs around Thanksgiving dinner tables this year, seats belonging to cherished family members who have succumbed to COVID-19. The majority of Americans have altered their traditional holiday plans, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges everyone to avoid traveling amid recent coronavirus upticks across the nation. Many of us have undoubtedly faced unexpected challenges this year due to online learning, lockdowns, and all of the other craziness that our current reality has brought.

In a time such as this, it may seem incredibly difficult for some to celebrate a holiday dedicated to giving thanks for the blessings and privileges in our daily lives. But in my opinion, the spirit of Thanksgiving is perhaps more important now than ever.

Thanksgiving has never been about the globe-trotting vacation we took this summer, or our latest shiny new purchase, or any of the other many excesses in our materialistic lives. Rather, this day is dedicated to expressing gratitude for the little things: family, friends, food, and of course, football. It’s about recognizing how privileged we are and finding ways to give back to those less fortunate in our communities. Thanksgiving is about introspection, reflection, and perhaps most importantly, focusing on what we have rather than what we may lack.

So, this year, I hope that you will join me in casting aside our frustration with what opportunities we may have missed out on, and contemplate all of the things which we have perhaps taken for granted in 2020 and in years past:

Let us give thanks to those brave Americans all across the country who have put their health and safety on the line to serve others in the face of this deadly pandemic - doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, and teachers surely come to mind. Let us not forget grocery store employees, truckers, delivery people, and all other workers who we now know are truly “essential.”

Let us be grateful for the hard and miraculous work being done by researchers striving to swiftly develop vaccines and therapeutic treatments for this virus.

Let us feel appreciation for our fellow Americans who have changed their routines, worn masks, and practiced social distancing in order to help keep one another healthy.

Let us see that though we may have had other dreams as to how our years would go, that many of us have been able to spend valuable time with our immediate family members and make cherished memories with them along the way.

Let us express gratitude for the food on our plates and recognize that too many of our neighbors are struggling to make ends meet, and let us rededicate ourselves to helping them in any way we can through selfless acts of kindness.

Let us remain thankful for the good fortune we have to live in the United States of America, the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. As Ronald Reagan said in his 1983 Thanksgiving proclamation, “Although we are a pluralistic society, the giving of thanks can be a true bond of unity among our people. We can unite in gratitude for our individual freedoms and individual faiths. We can be united in gratitude for our nation’s peace and prosperity when so many in this world have neither.”

And of course, above all, let us remember to value each day as a blessing and trust that, though we may presently be enduring hardships, this too shall pass.

With the nation still reeling from the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001, President George W. Bush issued one of the most poignant Thanksgiving proclamations ever penned. We can still draw great inspiration from his words today: “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.”

I hope that you and your family have a meaningful, restful, and fulfilling Thanksgiving holiday, and I look forward to us being able to break bread with one another once again next year.

Josh Kutner

Chairman, GW College Republicans


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