For most Scouts, Thanksgiving will probably be a day filled with eating and watching TV specials. That, however, was not what the day was designated to be. The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth 1621 was to celebrate their bountiful harvest. After a while, the meaning of the day has changed to be a more religious one, giving thanks for the multitude of blessings the people of America are beneficiaries of.

Every President has had something to say about Thanksgiving. I am just going to use one quote from President John F. Kennedy who said in his Thanksgiving message “yet as our power has grown, so has our peril.” I guess our country has always had difficult times, but now it seems very different. I think everyone is a little more hesitant to trust what will happen each day.

While I know Scouts are grateful for their lives and families, I wondered what else we should be thankful for.  A thankfulness which is not for our selves, but for others, is what I thought about. In a country which seems overrun with tragedy, such as fires, floods and mass chaos, one group stands out to me. This group is our first responders. What would we do without them? We have seen picture after picture of first responders putting their lives in jeopardy to save others. It is a risky business, and some have not made it back to their families.

Who are these first responders?  They begin with the fire department. As Scouts and Cubs, I am sure you all visited your local fire department and saw the trucks and the ambulances.  If something happened and you needed help, you would call 911 and those fantastic fire department members would be the first to come evaluate and help. They will be followed closely by the local police. I am sure as Scouts you have also interacted with the police. They hold much responsibility and have been targets themselves to preserve our safety. 

The picture that I remember most this year is of a first responder carrying a flood victim to safety in waist-high water. I want to thank each and every one of them this Thanksgiving.  How can you as Scouts show first responders you are thankful for them? If you are familiar with your local fire and police departments, cook up lots of cookies, make a poster board with all of your pictures and express in writing your gratitude for what they do. Let’s not take them for granted. They remain our first line of defense.

I am hopeful that this Thanksgiving will be a peaceful one for our Country and the world.  I am thankful for my ability to communicate with Scouts via The Voice of Scouting. Be thankful we can have a Thanksgiving and take some time to ponder on the many things we have to be grateful for this season. 

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Joyce Olesen
is a grandmother, mother, and daughter of Scouters. She love kids, camping, country music and sport cars. Her Dad was a Scout leader in Chicago in the early 1920’s and having only daughters did not bolster his Scouting hopes. As his "Scout" she was tying regulation knots by the time she was 7.

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