Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Be Thankful for the Commitment of Others on Thanksgiving

We went out to dinner with some great friends the other night and after a delightful feast on stone crabs at the Little Bar in Goodland, we decided to come back to our house and enjoy an after-dinner drink. Needless to say, the weather here has been gorgeous lately and we pulled back the sliders and opened up the house onto the lanai.

I can’t help but think about how lucky we all are to have found this little piece of paradise so many years ago and to have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful friends that make living here an absolute pleasure.

Our trips here were, of course, a little bit easier than those folks on the Mayflower some 399 years ago. Yes, it was 1620 when they set off from Europe and landed on the Massachusetts coast.

Many of my friends enjoy taking cruises quite regularly and speak to the wonderful time they always seem to have. Of course, those taking the Mayflower were not so lucky. There was no ship’s bursar to complain to about one’s cabin or seek an upgrade. What you saw is what you ended up with, if you were lucky.

If anything, those on the ship may have lucked out in not having to listen to a hundred kids splashing around in one of the pools playing that aggravating “Marco Polo” game. They did, however, have to contend with terrible afflictions such as scurvy and other diseases that affected them on and off the ship after arrival.

The food wouldn’t have been very palatable to our tastes today, and the rolling and tossing of the boat didn’t help to keep one’s meals down either.

As tough as the journey was, almost half of the crew and passengers did survive the crossing and the first year here in the new world. They were certainly a hearty lot of souls who put down their roots here in what would become their new home, even though they missed their intended target of a landing in New York.

Last evening’s conversation couldn’t help but turn to a discussion of Thanksgiving 2017, and the fact that it has only been two years since Hurricane Irma slammed into the south end of the island with Category 3 winds. We have a lot to be thankful for today, as there was no loss of life here on the island and the wonderful first responders and city staff did such a wonderful job for us all over the months that would follow.

Although we did suffer some damage, our neighbors in Goodland, Everglades City, Immokalee and other areas suffered must greater devastation.

It is important that we keep in perspective, the minor challenges we think are so overwhelming in our times. I’m not trying to trivialize some of those, as I do know wonderful families that are dealing with their own issues.

I can’t help though to think about the 600 volunteers that came together last weekend to package over 265,000 meals as part of the Meals of Hope effort to feed the hungry here in Southwest Florida, and the wonderful job my friend Bill Morris did in coordinating his team to make that great feat a reality.

The groundswell of support for our neighbors in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian struck them, was amazing. This was the most intense tropical cyclone to ever hit those islands. Groups and individuals here on Marco quickly came together to provide aid to those in need and continue to do so today. 

The efforts over the last year by organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions Club, Civitan Club, Knights of Columbus, and many more agencies and organizations that do so much here on our island and abroad to reach out to others with assistance and charity is overwhelming.

The volunteers who man the Daily Food Pantry, along with the Mobil Food Pantry, continue to help feed the needy and shut-ins each week, along with those with the Meals on Wheels efforts are spectacular.

We must also not forget those men and women who every day put their lives of the line for us all with our law enforcement, fire/rescue and EMS organizations. Law enforcement alone has lost 109 of their brave ranks as of November 23rd as I write this column. Another 52 firefighters have lost their lives in the Line of Duty, and the year is yet to be closed out for these brave heroes. Think about them and their dedication to duty, and never forget their sacrifices.

Last and not least, think about those Soldiers, Airmen, Seaman, Marines and Coast Guard professionals that stand the watch protecting our freedoms and liberties every day. Think about the 32 men and women who have lost their lives in service to this great nation since the beginning of 2019. Think about the tables that won’t have a son, daughter, husband, wife or parent sitting beside their family ever again. All of this as we keep in mind the 200,000 personnel who are deployed away from their loved ones, as they make good on their pledge to protect our nation.

Each and every one of us have a lot to be thankful for, not only on this holiday but on every day we take a breath. On this Thanksgiving, make a pledge to yourself to be more thankful for these wonderful folks that do so much for us every day and try to do a little more for others. Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless You All.

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