Op-Ed: Thanksgiving Isn’t Just About Gratitude. It’s About Liberty – And Duty

There’s a lot conservatives have to be grateful for this year. We saw the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Post-Roe legislation has already saved thousands of unborn children in Texas alone. We just flipped the House.

There have undoubtedly also been hardships this year.

By every metric that matters, President Joe Biden’s leadership is failing Americans. The average Thanksgiving meal rose to a record-high cost this year due to inflation. The markets are unstable, rent prices continue to soar, crime is rampant and inflation hovers at record highs. Everyday activities and even physical safety — or the lack thereof — are a referendum on Democratic policy.

But the beauty of our nation is that we can be grateful even as we face these hardships.

We can be thankful because, due to our nation’s founding, we have the ability to refuse poor government and peacefully replace unjust or ineffective leadership. It’s part of what makes America great, what sets her apart from other nations: She has rested, from birth, upon the consent of the governed.

This Thanksgiving is a chance to reflect on the many blessings of liberty, and to celebrate them with those who are closest to us. Even in seasons of difficulty or political turmoil, America is a great and beautiful nation. It was, is and must remain committed to its noble vision of man made by a Creator, endowed with rights, entitled to freedom and just government.

It’s a chance for us to reflect, too, on the hard work required to sustain such a nation.

In 1789, our first president George Washington asked that a day be set aside for gratitude to God “that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations … to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Washington understood that gratitude for our rare and hard-won freedoms isn’t the only appropriate posture on Thanksgiving. We also need to ask for and actively exercise the wisdom and strength to maintain public virtue, civic justice and a faithful people.

Benjamin Franklin’s now-famous quip that we have “a republic, if [we] can keep it” gets more directly to the point. We can’t just enjoy it. It isn’t enough to be grateful for it. We must also keep it.

“Keeping” our nation is a complicated project. It requires good men and women building strong families in order to raise good children. It requires good leadership and virtuous, engaged citizens at every level: in our churches, our towns, our states, our courtrooms and our federal representation.

So this Thanksgiving, take a moment to gather around the table to celebrate all we’ve been given. Take a moment to stand in gratitude and humility with those you love. But remember, too, the cost of our precious liberty. Remember its fragility, and your responsibility to build and protect it.

Happy Thanksgiving. Thank God for our nation, for its founding, and for every small victory in our battle to preserve it.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.