We have much to be thankful for

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

Many of us went to the polls a few weeks ago to elect the leaders of our country, state and counties. This ability to select the members of our government is a unique tradition that we often take for granted.

It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the right to vote was not always guaranteed. Many people worked, fought and died to ensure every American has the opportunity to cast their vote. This is a freedom that we should never take for granted as it is the cornerstone of our democracy.

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So, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I find myself thinking back to the many blessings in life that we sometimes take for granted, like the right to vote.

Thanksgiving is a special time of the year. It is a time when fall begins to turn into winter, leaves crinkle and fall to the earth, and the air outside becomes crisp. It is a time to reunite with old friends and visit loved ones. It is also a time to reflect on everything that we have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my family. My wife, Rebecca, is an amazing woman who dedicates herself to her family and her community. I am also thankful for our four children, who have achieved so much and make us proud each and every day. I’m also blessed to be a grandparent and to experience all the joys that come with it.

I am thankful to live in a part of the country that is unlike any other. From our beautiful environment to the incredibly warm and hospitable people who call it home, there is something truly special about Southwest Alabama.

I am thankful for the opportunity to represent the First District of Alabama. I am so honored to be your voice in Congress and to fight for you every day. From contributing to our Navy fleet with the LCS to improving our infrastructure with the I-10 bridge, we have accomplished so much and there is so much more to come.

I am thankful for my congressional staff who are committed to improving the lives of those who live in Southwest Alabama. My staff in D.C. often work long hours in an effort to ensure our area has a strong voice in our nation’s Capitol, and my staff back in Alabama are dedicated to helping local residents navigate the confusing, and sometimes frustrating, government bureaucracy.

Most importantly, I am thankful to belong to an all-loving God, who is responsible for each of the blessings in my life. As it is written quite clearly in 1 Chronicles 16:34 — “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Sometimes it can be easy to forget how much we have to be thankful for. Everyday struggles and challenges can cause us to forget our many blessings. I hope everyone will join me in taking some time on Thanksgiving to reflect on everything we have to be thankful for.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.