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Despite often-rough year, we are thankful for plenty

The Pilgrims, to whom we can trace the roots of Thanksgiving in1621, had much to be thankful for. These early Americans gatheredto celebrate a bountiful harvest. And after fleeing from religiouspersecution in England, they also were celebrating newfound freedomto worship as they pleased.

In much the same vein, we have so many reasons to be thankfulnow.

We are thankful for the men and women of our nation’s armedforces – our friends, relatives, neighbors and others who freelyput their lives on the line at home and overseas so we might remainfree today. And more so, we are thankful that many of our soldierswho serve in the 155th Brigade Combat Team may soon be home – someas soon as Christmas and other soon after.

In recent weeks here in southwest Mississippi, we have seenprogress in our communities for which we are grateful. Our localeconomies have been healthy, posting what some say are the bestsales-tax numbers in recent memory. There is enough commercial andindustrial interest in our area that our community leaders havewisely pursued a new business park for Brookhaven and LincolnCounty to position our area for the growth we all expect. Projectssuch as this are a testament to our dedicated public and businessofficials who are willing to cooperate and compromise for the goodof our community.

In some ways, 2005 has been a tough year for Mississippi. Inlate August, the worst natural disaster to strike the United Statesin modern times targeted our Gulf Coast, as well as that ofneighboring Louisiana and Alabama. But even in the tragedy ofHurricane Katrina – amid scenes of death and destruction – we foundthe best of our neighbors and ourselves. We are thankful that thiscatastrophe brought out the best in so many people – friends,neighbors and even strangers willing to lend a hand wherever andhowever needed.

We are thankful that the human toll of Katrina – as staggeringas it was – was not worse. We also are grateful that southMississippi and other regions affected by the storm already arebeginning to show signs of renewal and rebirth, and we have fullconfidence that our great state will ultimately bounce back evenbetter than it was before.

Like the Pilgrims, we have much to celebrate. We are trulythankful that the Lord watches over us, guides us and provides forour every need.