While I won’t recite the email verbatim, I will say that it brought back very pleasant memories of my childhood. This was a simple time when most Americans lived debt free in small homes, mowed grass with push mowers, served home cooked meals at the kitchen table, watched television as a family unit together in the living room, and went to drive-in theaters. In our youth, many of us lived in safe neighborhoods, sat on front porches interacting with our neighbors, and never locked our front doors. For many of us it was an idealist and safe era. While many of us did not lead extravagant lives, nor were we wealthy, we were rich in love.
Unfortunately, as we all know, times change, and often change is not always best. While the email I previously referenced was well written and made me reminisce about my youth, time does move on. This email brought back pleasant memories for me, but in reality it was written to spotlight how society has changed in recent years. The email describes a era that is vastly different than 2009 in many ways.
As we all know, the past year has been quite traumatic in the lives of most Americans. As 2009 comes to a close, our country is divided over a bitter political debate over healthcare and out-of-control government spending that threatens to split us even more.
In the past year, we have watched as the Afghanistan War has deteriorated and a growing number of American soldiers are giving the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. Many of us have suffered through severe financial losses as our jobs have disappeared, retirement accounts devalued, homes foreclosed, and the stock market plunged. And, we have been extremely disappointed as our political leaders failed us either through their personal shortcomings or through public scandal.
Many of us suffered through illness or lost loved ones this year. Earlier this summer, I lost my grandmother who died at age 90. Like many of you who lost relatives and friends in 2009, I take great joy in the many lessons my grandmother shared with me, and for the love she gave us all.
As bad as things seemed in 2009, I do not believe we should ever wallow in pity or fear. While there has been much personal suffering, collectively we have much to give thanks for. One of my all time heroes was Ronald Reagan, and he always took the high road and remained optimistic, even in dark times. I believe we must follow Reagan’s bright example if we are to rescue America from the malaise and bitterness we currently experience. In his second inaugural address, Reagan wrote words that I believe are just as appropriate today as in 1985. He said, “We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. There are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great republic.”
While our state and nation have many serious challenges ahead, and the upcoming year is expected to deliver additional financial hardships and political unrest, it is my prayer that as South Carolinians and Americans we can emphasize the positive – by remembering what brings us together as opposed to what divides us. There is a valuable lesson to be learned from Ronald Reagan’s optimistic message, as opposed to all of the negativity we are faced with today.
As Americans, we know what unites us and we should strive to work towards that goal. While we can reminisce about an era past, we can also learn by those lessons to build an even better society today. As 2010 begins, lets be resolute in our desire to build a greater America and South Carolina, and that starts at home with a strong family unit, which lives modestly within in its means, with economic stability, and worships a loving God.
Already in the closing days of 2009 you can see the tide turning and life returning somewhat back to normal. Although there is much work to be done and more sacrifices expected from all of us.
Thankfully, in October, the Boeing Corporation announced a $700 million dollar economic development project that is expected to bring over 3,000 jobs to South Carolina, with the promise of thousands of other Boeing related jobs in the future. Nationally, the stock market has seen gains, and we remain optimistically hopeful that our economy is finally rebounding.
Yes, as a state and nation, we do have many challenges to face in the coming year. But as 2009 draws to a close, and as we prepare to give our blessings on Thanksgiving Day, we should be mindful of what is good in our lives. While there is great uncertainty and suffering among many of us, we should attempt to follow the lead of Ronald Reagan’s optimistic philosophy. But more importantly, on Thanksgiving and every day, we should first and foremost offer thanks to the Almighty who continues to richly bless us.