by Nick Taylor
Today is a perfect time to give thanks for immigrants and remember the story of the original Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims and Puritans arrived on these shores as immigrants. Like immigrants to America today, they came in search of a life they could not achieve at home. Religious freedom was one of their objectives. But that was just one component of a new life of opportunity that a boundless country, not yet formed, presented them.
Today’s immigrants come here for the same things the Pilgrims sought — opportunity and freedom. They don’t come looking for handouts. They come looking for access to things they can’t find where they came from. They’re willing to work hard at jobs others won’t do. They seek opportunities for education. They bring skills our country needs. And over time they become part of the multi-colored, multi-religious, multi-ethnic fabric that makes us unique among the nations of the world.
Thanksgiving isn’t just a day to eat and watch football. Or watch the Macy’s parade, even if your alma mater’s in it — I was proud to see my Western Carolina Pride of the Mountains band marching down Broadway this morning. At its best Thanksgiving is a day of remembrance of who we are and who we try to be.
Our goals alone prompt thanks today as well. We don’t always live up to them, but they remind us of bedrock human ideals. In a world where suffering and greed, corruption and cruelty dominate the news, America continues to represent the belief that men and women can live lives of substance and value, free from tyrannical demands.
My father was an immigrant. My mother’s father was as well. I’ll never know what they escaped. But I know what they found. For that we should all be grateful on Thanksgiving.