As we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and kicking off the season of giving, I find myself once more with so much to be thankful for here in this great County of Orange we call home. I’m thankful that this year we were spared the brunt of a major storm that tragically devastated our neighbors to the south. I’m grateful for the many Orange County residents who have stepped up to help those who did not fare as well, both here and away. I’m proud that we are a community of neighbors helping neighbors in a time of need.
There have been blood drives, coat drives, food collections, and more in order to provide much needed supplies to those in New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. I appreciate those community members who have served as volunteers, both here at home and in the hard-hit areas to the south of us, to aid in the storm clean-up and recovery. I am thankful for the members of the 105th Air National Guard, stationed at Stewart, and other members of our armed services who have been on-site in those stricken areas to provide food and water, clean-up assistance, and protection and support in order to preserve our public safety. I was so proud to see pictures and video of members of the 105th ANG on national news channels; even the President showed off their picture during a briefing. I am also immensely grateful for the time, talent, and expertise provided right here at home by our employees, the many members of our Emergency Operations team, including law enforcement, first responders, emergency personnel and others, as well as scores of volunteers. We are indeed fortunate - these are the people who help make Orange County a great place, to live, work, and raise a family.
The Thanksgiving tradition is one that is deeply rooted in our American experience. In our nation’s earliest days, the Pilgrims invited a group of Native Americans to a celebratory feast to give thanks for the colonists’ first successful corn harvest. In 1789, George Washington issued our new nation’s first Thanksgiving proclamation; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
Today, Thanksgiving continues to be a time for families and friends to join together and express gratitude for all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the love and fellowship of those who enrich our daily lives. We are thankful that we live in a nation where individuals are free to express their personal, political, and religious views free of government oppression, or persecution.
As we enjoy Thanksgiving with our family and friends, I urge you to remember those who may not be so fortunate this holiday season, especially our brave men and women of the armed forces who put themselves in harm’s way every day to ensure that we are able to continue to enjoy the freedoms and traditions we hold dear. Please also take time to offer a helping hand and a generous spirit to the sick, elderly, and those in need during the holidays. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to our website, www.orangecountygov.com, and Facebook page "Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana" for information on ways you may be able to help those less fortunate during the holiday season.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.