Vol. 9, No. 46
November 15-21, 2001 
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Giving Thanks to the People in Our Neighborhood

When Mr. Rogers made the last of his beloved television shows earlier this year, it might have been because his new neighborhood had too many people to fit into his famous song: “These are the people in your neighborhood … they’re the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street … they’re the people that you see each day.”

There may have been a time in Fred Rogers’ run of over 30 years and 1,000 episodes when his neighborly sweetness seemed saccharine, but that was before September 11. The tragedy of four airplanes exploding as bombs has reawakened America’s sense of community. We seem more like neighbors nowadays, who know a little about one another’s lives and care more than a little about one another’s fate. We feel like neighbors.

Which is why this November is unlike any other. This year, we’re not saying ‘It seems too soon for Thanksgiving.’ This year — like all our neighbors in Chesapeake Country and across America — Thanksgiving has come at just the right time.

For the heroes who gave their lives in hopes of saving others — the passengers on Flight 93, brought down short of its target; the firefighters, the police, the rescuers and laborers — America has been giving thanks since September 11. In opening our hearts, those heroes have taught us to look with new regard at their brothers and sisters all across our land, to greet them with awe, gratitude and thanks as we realize they’d do the same — make the ultimate sacrifice — for us.

Bay Weekly saw proof of that just yesterday when an advance team of firefighters visited our office to check it out so they’d know what was where should we ever need rescuing. At Thanksgiving, America’s special holiday, we owe our thanks to you, neighbors.

We’ve more thanks to give, for September 11 has illuminated how profoundly our communities are connected. We don’t get a letter nowadays without thinking of the human chain of hands that delivered that letter to our door — and the risk each along the chain has taken to keep us connected. This Thanksgiving, we’ve thanks to give to our postal workers.

And thanks to our farmers. Turkey, potatoes, pumpkins and cranberries are not just commodities this year. They’re the work of other neighbors, our farmers, whose own livelihoods are jeopardized by forces coming at them out of the blue: consolidation, tobacco buyouts, genetic engineering.

Let’s not forget our grocers, who stock the shelves and coolers with bounty that, in all its abundance, is too easy to take for granted. Certainly not our wives and mothers, who’ll turn the groceries into our feast — and wash our dishes. How about our cleaners, who — since today’s mom is likely juggling her own job for pay — scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed the house into festive cleanliness?

Our communities have gotten bigger than Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and the ways we depend on each other more complex, but we’re all still neighbors — with very big reasons for giving thanks.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly