Giving Thanks

By Senator Mike Johanns

Throughout the year, our lives often become so busy it can seem difficult to stop and count our blessings. Thanksgiving gives us this opportunity. It not only provides time to spend with loved ones, but also time to pause and reflect on the things in life for which we are thankful.

Take time over this holiday to remind yourself of the blessings you have, or to help a friend, neighbor or even a complete stranger in need. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s easy to lose sight of even the little things we can do to help others. The smallest act of charity and kindness can be enriching and give others a reason to be thankful.

As a U.S. Senator, I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to witness this kindness and selflessness in others. Consider Paul and Mandy Mueting, a Kearney couple who have opened their home to three young foster children in need of parents. Paul and Mandy have been a blessing to these children and have lovingly provided them with a safe home and a bright future. In August I was thrilled to nominate the Muetings as Adoption Angels. They could provide no better example for others with love to give and a home to share.

At a meeting this summer with the Lincoln Food Bank, I saw firsthand the amount of time and effort put into providing food for the needy and the homeless. This Thanksgiving, the food bank will be working overtime to help ensure our most vulnerable fellow Nebraskans have food on the table. I encourage you to feel the enrichment of donating or volunteering. Helping others can be a blessing all its own.

I had the honor in September of spending time with World War II veterans from Grand Island when they visited Washington, D.C. and the memorial on the National Mall dedicated to their service. There’s no limit to the thanks and gratitude we owe our veterans and those currently serving overseas. We’ll enjoy the happiness of this holiday season because of the generations of veterans who have fought and sacrificed for our country.

What hit home the most for me were my visits this summer to flood-affected areas such as Fort Calhoun and South Sioux City; Decatur and Niobrara. Throughout all the challenges, I saw local officials taking the lead and truly living up to the essence of community leadership. I saw local business owners sacrifice time and resources to put the community ahead of their own interests. And I saw everyday citizens – mothers, fathers, sons and daughters – standing shoulder to shoulder to make protection against the flood a true community effort. I was so impressed that I paid tribute on the Senate floor to this selfless response.

These men and women and so many others give us countless reasons to be thankful. I continue to be grateful for the privilege of serving you in the United States Senate. And I continue to feel blessed for being a Nebraskan and an American. My wife Stephanie and I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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