Recent Op-Eds

One of the great advantages of representing South Dakota in Washington is the ability to see how life can be so different from one place to another. Congress is currently mired in a mess where little progress is being made on issues that are vital to our national interest and partisan bickering is raging out of control.

Returning to South Dakota each weekend gives me a chance to catch my breath and get a sense of what our people want from government, and to confirm first-hand that at the end of the day we are all blessed to live in this country. There is no time of year when this is more apparent to me than Thanksgiving.

School children are taught the story of the pilgrims sitting down with Native Americans to celebrate the harvest and prepare for the coming of winter. While this story is a nice example of the American value of sharing our bounty, it is not the full story of how Thanksgiving became part of our national tradition.

Perhaps ironically, perhaps with a touch of destiny, Thanksgiving became a part of our national story at its darkest hour. In the fall of 1863 with the nation crumbling around him, Abraham Lincoln called on all Americans to recognize their own resilience in surviving a turbulent war while still managing to bring in a plentiful crop. President Lincoln reminded Americans that even in the most desperate situation, our nation has been blessed and that we should be mindful of it. It's plain to see that the lessons we learned in the Civil War are just as relevant today.

Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together and celebrate each other and the love that strengthens us all. Volunteer in your community. Help wash the dishes after dinner. Throw a football with your siblings and laugh about the trouble you made as kids. Ask a veteran relative to share stories of a Thanksgiving spent overseas in service to our nation.

Most of all, South Dakotans should come together and be thankful for all that we have been blessed with. It was a good year for farms and there are opportunities across the state that will hopefully keep the state strong and growing for years to come. I am looking forward to a great South Dakota Thanksgiving with my family, and I wish the same happiness to you and yours.