McRae: Unity in Gratitude

We have a tradition in our family, one yours may very well share. After Thanksgiving dinner, we circle the table and list one thing we’re grateful for. Regardless of where we are or how difficult a year it was, everyone can seem to muster up a small list of items for which they’re thankful.

After the challenges of 2020, I think most were hoping 2021 would deal a little better hand. But it too came with its challenges. The COVID pandemic continued. Political divisions seemed to deepen. Inflation has pushed gas bills, food costs, and now even holiday gift prices up. Fortunately, it is for situations like this that Thanksgiving was created.

In 1863 at the Civil War’s height, President Lincoln became the first to establish Thanksgiving as a holiday celebrated on the last Thursday of each November. Despite the nation’s turmoil and divisions, he gave thanks in his proclamation for the fact that the United States was not at war with other nations and that order had largely been maintained outside the theatre of military conflict. Moreover, he expressed hope for “peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”

I share that same hope today. In his 1981 Thanksgiving address, President Reagan predicted that gratitude itself would be the “true bond of unity among our people.”

He explained further: “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.”

As I reflect on the last year from the State Treasury’s perspective, I am certainly grateful for the public servants who have worked so diligently to protect Mississippi’s individual freedoms and prosperity. Because of their efforts, we returned millions of unclaimed dollars to citizens across the state. We helped hundreds of families put money away for a child’s education. And we proved Mississippi was fiscally responsible thereby preserving the state’s strong credit rating.

So, what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? The opportunity to be reunited with family after a long, COVID-fueled hiatus? A new job? A raise? A new home? Did you finish paying off your student loan debts or welcome a child to your family? Do you have your health? Your faith? Whatever it may be, I hope that when you gather this Thanksgiving, your family and friends take a moment to share a list of items for which each are grateful. Perhaps you’ll then experience what Presidents Reagan and Lincoln had confidently foretold: that in gratitude, we can find unity with our neighbor.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.