Next week will be Thanksgiving. During the celebration of this holiday, we have an opportunity to reflect on the gifts that we enjoy on a daily basis.
In addition to our health, family, friends and loved ones, as Americans we should be thankful for our many unparalleled freedoms; freedoms that men and women in the different branches of our armed forces have fought to protect over the years.
We live in a country where we are free to practice any religion we choose. We can voice our opinions on any subject we would like including the government, and we have the right to bear arms. Unlike the residents of many countries in the world, we have an opportunity to vote for our political leaders. In addition, we are free to live or travel anywhere in our nation; to work at any job for which we can qualify; to marry and raise a family; to receive free K-12 education in good public schools; and to join political parties, unions, and other legal groups. If you are fortunate enough to study abroad in one of our international programs you will see firsthand that these are not freedoms to be taken for granted.
Americans also enjoy clean water, access to various types of energy, and ample food sources. Most of us are fortunate enough to have roofs over our heads, and a form of transportation to help us get from one place to another.
We also have access to educational opportunities, information and knowledge. You can be thankful for being a college student. At Norwich you are learning skills and values which will enable you to go out into the world after graduation and make a difference – whether in a military or civilian career.
While reflecting on all that you have and how fortunate you are, take a moment to think about the Norwich guiding value of “service to nation and others before self.” This is a good time to consider taking advantage of volunteer opportunities, either in your hometown or in the Vermont community. Volunteer at a food shelf, in a local school, or at a recycling center. Become a mentor for an elementary school child. Visit the residents at a veteran’s home or a nursing home. Do what you can to help others less fortunate than yourself. It is the Norwich thing to do, and we make it easy to do by working through the Center for Civic Engagement.
I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving break. Get some rest, enjoy your family and friends, and come back to campus ready for the final push of the semester.