The Thanksgiving holiday embodies so many crucial ideals of what it means to be American.

It is this special time of year when we’re able to come together with our family and friends to reflect on the liberties and blessings we are lucky enough to enjoy in this great country. Since the very first Thanksgiving shared between the settlers and the American Indians, the day has been a symbolic expression of our gratitude for having what many other countries do not – freedom. 

Freedom of expression, freedom of religious belief, freedom of speech and many other inherent rights are what we, as United States citizens, are entitled to by law. In light of the recent tragic events unfolding in Europe and the Middle East, now more than ever we must remember how lucky we are to be free and keep those less fortunate than us in our thoughts and prayers.

My heart goes out to those affected by the cowardly attacks in Paris this past week, and I urge you all to pray for our allies as they cope with this devastating event. Moving forward, we must stay strong and unafraid as we reunite with our loved ones this holiday. As we sit down with family and friends to give thanks on Thursday, I hope you will appreciate the blessings in your life that many of us take for granted. Also, please remember our servicemen and women fighting for our, and others’, freedoms across the world. With the threat of terrorist activity on the rise, it is important to remember that the liberties we enjoy and the aid we give to the world do come at a price.

 Thanksgiving truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Please use this day as a time to show your love and gratitude to one another and share what you have with those less fortunate than you.

Mike Cunningham is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate, representing District 33. Contact him at 573-751-1882 or www.senate.mo.gov/cunningham

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