The Commerce News
November 24, 1999
Hit 30-Year Lows
Given the publicity from the Columbine High School shootings
and other high profile crimes, few Americans would have predicted
that the rate of gun-related deaths has fallen, but that is exactly
what has happened.
Certainly, that is something we can be thankful for in this season.
The Clinton White House and the Republican Congress will be particularly
thankful because both will scramble to take credit for the fact
that between 1993 and 1997 gun deaths dropped 21 percent to the
lowest level in more than 30 years.
The study was undertaken by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and it covered all gunshot wounds reported at emergency
rooms, whether they were intentional, accidental or even self-inflicted.
The reasons given by "experts" are varied. They include
tougher legislation, preventative efforts of public health officials,
even a strong economy that helped reduce overall crime and suicide
attempts. Gun advocates cite the statistics as proof gun controls
are not needed, while gun control proponents say the drop is
Now if we could just reduce the frequency of gun-related incidents
being reported on the evening news.
Most Have Plenty To Be Thankful For
Even those of us who are prone to complain must admit this Thursday
that there is much for which we must be thankful. Sure, we can
look around at the personal tragedies and failures, at crime
in the streets, problems in education, biases in the media, shortcomings
in government and conclude that there is infinite room for improvement.
Still, on Thanksgiving let us be grateful for those things that
When a handful of Pilgrims gathered to celebrate their survival
in a harsh land, they were thankful to God just to be alive.
They were isolated, thousands of miles from their countrymen
in a land populated by a primitive culture with whom communication
was extremely difficult. Their food resources were limited. They
had no backup provisions for health care, no plan for retirement,
no protection should the natives prove unfriendly. They faced
a grim, tough future, and came from a harsh, tragic immediate
past in which many of their number had perished. But they were
There are people today in similar straits. They face the possibility
of starvation following massive floods in India or Bangladesh.
They struggle to recover from earthquakes in Turkey or with famine
in Africa, and all over the world are large pockets of grinding
poverty the likes of which Americans can never understand, not
to mention individual tragedies from which people struggle to
As a nation, we face no clear and immediate threat from enemies,
from forces of nature, epidemic or famine. Our government is
secure, and compared to the rest of the world, quite effective.
Educational and medical services are available to everyone and
few are starving. America remains the land of opportunity. Its
unparalleled freedoms still attract immigrants from all over
the globe, and its wealth is unsurpassed. The economy remains
strong. Above all, the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution
still exist. No one tells us what we have to read, say or think
or how we must worship, and we are free to live where we wish.
Thursday, families here will join the rest of the nation in observing
Thanksgiving, a day of celebration of our many blessings. Before
you sit down to a feast Thursday, think of those first Pilgrims,
remember how fortunate we are compared to others in the world,
and give thanks to God for your blessings.
The Commerce News
November 24, 1999
The idea of taking a special day out to
give thanks is wonderful. We all have so much for which to be
thankful that we could, if we really tried, spend a whole day
tabulating them, and still not cover everything.
For the past several years, I've thought more frequently about
the things for which I should give thanks. On the occasion of
Thanksgiving, here are a few.
Most obvious: for a God who loves mankind so much and is so available.
For my wife and children, my parents, the kind of family that
raised me, the fact that I am American, the town environment
in which I grew up, for answered prayers The usual stuff. The
For the fact that God protected me from myself during the years
when I was too foolish to know I needed protection, for the fact
that I didn't get everything I wanted during those years. For
my job, my co-workers, my friends and my relatives (well, most
For the taste and smell of coffee early in the morning, and for
a glass of wine in the evening. For fish that bite, and especially
for the people who let me fish in their lakes and ponds. For
sunrise on the water in mid-summer, and sunset at the same places
in the fall, where as darkness grows, the ducks and geese fly
in. For the kingfishers, beavers and great blue herons whose
presence add something to the hours on the lake.
For our proofreaders, who save me from my most embarrassing goofs,
and for readers who forgive those that get by. For computers
when they work, and for people who can make them work when they
crash. For Spellcheck. For my free Internet service. For Mike
Buffington's patience as he dragged me kicking and screaming
into computer composition. For good stories, good photos and
good news. For the people who understand that bad news is news
I am thankful for the diversity of nature, for flowers that bloom
in the shade, for plants deer don't eat and for my blueberry
bushes. For bees that pollinate my garden and yours, for the
antics of squirrels, for the majesty of hawks and other raptors.
For the change of seasons, for deep blue skies and the fall leaves.
For earthworms that make compost and for horse manure that helps
them enrich my soil.
For the people who make our community work, the teachers, church
personnel, emergency personnel, civic leaders, and for volunteers.
For honest, competent public officials, for concerned and knowledgeable
citizens, for the good business people, particularly those whose
retail establishments survive against all odds in Commerce. For
those with vision and those who can be counted on to work. For
the special few who always seem upbeat. For those who have humor.
For the History Channel, Braves baseball, and athletes that can
perform well without feeling that they must do an endzone dance.
For a strong economy, for my dog's eternal affection, for pasta.
I am thankful for people who enjoy working in nursing homes,
for pastors, missionaries and those who work with the down and
out. For honest, compassionate people. For music, bourbon, medium-rare
steaks, for giggling children, rainy nights and people willing
to stand up for what they believe in.
Shoot, I was just getting started.