It is easy for me to be thankful. I've lived a very full life. I've done things that many cannot dream of and been fortunate enough to have an appreciation of my experiences.
I grew up with loving parents and got a good education in Catholic schools. We didn't have much but we appreciated what we had. Holiday traditions were well established and we always celebrated Thanksgiving, even in those days when all we could afford was half a turkey. It never looked like the Norman Rockwell paintings of the feast, but it tasted just as good.
I earned a National Merit Scholarship but learned that because my father earned more than $5000 a year and my mother earned nearly $3000 that we were too affluent for financial aid for college. I worked my way through school and commuted from home on the bus and subway of Chicago. I graduated in four years with the bare minimum grade-point average, 2.01 for a 2.0 requirement. I was thankful for that.
My career path was clear to me and I was fortunate enough to have the skills and health and the opportunity to pursue it. I went to war when I wasn't ready but through the grace of God and a handful of exceptional leaders, I survived. When my turn came to lead others into combat, I paid it forward.
Along the way during my career I got VA benefits to fund two Master's degrees. I had the chance to spend a year and half in Asia and nearly eight years in Europe. I've skied the slopes below the Matterhorn and Eiger, sipped wine in the shadow of the Duomo in Florence, ridden through the lagoons of Venice, eaten at a dozen Michelin three-star restaurants in France, walked Picadilly and Tafalgar squares, watched Formula One races in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Holland and France, fought bulls in Spain and eaten cochinillo in the shade of a 1000 year old aquaduct in Segovia.
There's more, but you get the idea. I've been to Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Gibraltar, Portugal and Greece. It's all been good. And I know it.
I've been married to a loving woman who has tolerated some amazing shenanigans through the years. Somehow she still loves me. I'm very fortunate.
I've had cancer and survived surgery and radiation only slightly the worse for wear after almost nine years now. I'm thankful.
Today I can reflect back on a life that has been rewarding and full. I'm thankful for my family, small though it may be. I'm thankful for what God has given me in talent and skills. I'm thankful for my friends over the years. I've got not a single regret in my life and for that I'm immensely thankful.
I was fortunate to be born in America. And how much more can I be thankful for that?
I'm thankful today and every day.