Michael Reagan / Nov. 26, 2015

A Country to Give Thanks For

The Middle East is in total chaos. Terrorism is only getting worse. We've got big economic, immigration and racial problems we can't solve. And we're in the middle of a presidential election that looks like it'll end badly for the country -- no matter whom we elect. With all this trouble, tragedy and unhappiness around the world and at home, it's easy to forget the good things we have.

The Middle East is in total chaos.

Terrorism is only getting worse.

We’ve got big economic, immigration and racial problems we can’t solve.

And we’re in the middle of a presidential election that looks like it’ll end badly for the country – no matter whom we elect.

With all this trouble, tragedy and unhappiness around the world and at home, it’s easy to forget the good things we have.

Sometimes it takes an immigrant to remind us how lucky we Americans are.

My dear friends Karel and Sandy know why they love the USA and why it is so special.

In 1986, when they were 19 and 18, they and their one-year-old daughter were able to get forged documents and escape from communist Czechoslovakia.

After a year in a refugee camp in Austria, they found someone to sponsor them in the United States.

The Czech government tried and convicted them in absentia for “stealing” a ward of the state — their own child. But by the time they were each sentenced to more than 20 years in prison, they were safe in Southern California.

They didn’t speak English. Karel got a job in the kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel and Sandy worked nights.

Karel learned Spanish from his co-workers while Sandy learned English by watching soap operas.

One of their few marital disagreements was over whether the official language of the United States was English or Spanish. So they decided to learn both.

Karel eventually got a job with a contractor and then became a kitchen and bath contractor himself. Sandy often worked with him.

He worked 10- and 14-hour days, learned the business from the ground up, became good at what he did and earned a good reputation.

He made a good living and today he has more contracting jobs than he can handle. Now he’s trying to retire but can’t because he’s so much in demand.

When my wife Colleen and I visited Karel and Sandy recently, Karel said he was amazed how many native-born Americans don’t realize how great they have it.

“This is a country where if you come and work hard for 22 years you don’t have to worry about the next 22 years,” he said.

Too often we take America for granted or see only the negatives. We need to be giving thanks this weekend that we still live in the best country in the world.

Despite our social and economic problems, we need to remember that we live in the place where millions of people from other countries want to break into — legally or illegally.

Our presidential election process is too long and too expensive. Yet whether we love or hate the people running, we should be thankful we have a peaceful and reasonably honest electoral process we can accept.

No matter who wins or loses, the Constitution will live. It’s a protection against government oppression few other people have.

Karel and Sandy get America. All of us need to get it too. We need to give thanks that we have such a country where if you work hard for 22 years you don’t worry about the next 22.

Only in America can you do that.

So during this Thanksgiving Day, even while we’re watching the latest flood of bad news, we should sit back and give thanks that we live in greatest country in the world.

Where people can be free. Where we can have elections. Where we have a Constitution. And where, with all of our problems, we are that shining city on a hill — still.

Copyright ©2015 Michael Reagan

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