One of my reservations about many national holidays is that they eventually evolve into mere traditions and lose their historical significance. The focus eventually shifts to the processes rather than the purpose. If I ask few young Americans how we celebrate Thanksgiving, most of them will be able to answer that we ear Turkey and mention things we are thankful for, but few may know the history and cultural relevance of Thanksgiving. While I do believe we should preserve the good parts of Thanksgiving such as being grateful for our blessings, I also believe we should reflect on the historical lessons of this holiday. We should be courageous to acknowledge both the positive and the negative aspects of Thanksgiving so that we can avoid some of the mistakes our ancestors made. A country progresses when it learns from its history and vows not to repeat the mistakes. Similarly, we should also take measures to celebrate Thanksgiving in a better way. This may include spending less on food and donating the savings to worthy causes such as food banks and homeless shelters. This approach will be more altruistic in nature and better suited to the spirit of thanksgiving.
As I reflect upon my experiences over the last year, I am more thankful for being alive and for being in this special country. The global events, particularly, the refugee crisis in Syria reminds me I have often taken the privilege to be in a peaceful country for granted. Similarly, I know of some people who lost their lives at a young age over the last year and it reminded me life is unpredictable and at the same time, the most valuable thing we possess. Thus, I pledge to live as a better citizen from now onwards so that I can show my appreciation for being alive and for living in America.
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