Sept. 11 vs. Nov. 22

Expressing gratitude on this Thanksgiving might take a little extra effort, given the difficult times. Yet mustering causes for thanks is what Americans, indeed people everywhere, may most need when faced by tragedy and trials.

And amid the golden palette of this autumn, there is much to be grateful for, both close to home and abroad.

At home, community spirit has deepened in the face of a common threat. People have a renewed appreciation of loving families that can reach beyond a circle of relatives to others in need. Generosity burst forth in an unprecedented outpouring of compassion and support for those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11. The same quality can help those hurt by the recession.

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On this Thanksgiving, Americans can draw together and celebrate their triumph over adversity - not unlike what the Pilgrims must have done after enduring their first winter.

Abroad, a significant dent has been made in the Al Qaeda terrorist network, in Afghanistan and in its financial resources. Humanitarian aid can now reach most needy Afghans.

Much of the world community has risen to help put down global terror. Russia, Germany, and Japan - each former enemies - have seen fit to offer troops or supplies to the war. Britain and its masterly prime minister, Tony Blair, again have demonstrated a commitment to the ideals it shares with America.

Much needed leadership has come from President and Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and New York's Mayor Giuliani, to name a few. Congress has largely put rancor aside in creating a united front against terror. Many heroes, often anonymous, warrant as much - if not more - gratitude as do the leaders in the news each day.

Individual Americans have learned the difference between caution and fear, closing security loopholes, guarding against prejudice, reconnecting or connecting for the first time with neighbors, and learning once again what not to take for granted.

And if, when the burst of patriotism has passed, a spirit of civic mindedness remains kindled, and the religious rootedness of America has grown stronger, then the country will indeed have cause for thanks.

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