By Franklin T Wike, Jr.
As November peeks it’s head around the corner, I automatically think of the Thanksgiving holiday. Yet my thoughts do not turn to images of the first Thanksgiving in this country, but rather the words “Thanks” and “Giving.”
Personally I think the name is backwards and should read “Giving Thanks.” In my personal opinion, every single person living in this country today has a lot to be thankful for. I know there are many people out there that have suffered personal tragedies, or have lost loved ones, but even our worst days, are 100% better then the lives of our ancestors and many people from other countries.
I received a letter recently from my Uncle Bill Wike.
In his letter, he stated that when he was a young boy and the family needed water, they had to get it from a stream on a neighbor’s property and carry it home by the bucketful.
Speaking of using water, I have a photograph that shows how we used to take baths when I was a child. Since I am a bit on the shy side, I decided to show you a photograph of my brother Donald Wike taking a bath, instead of a picture of me. As you can see, our baths were taken in an old washtub out in the back yard.
I can also remember using an outdoor privy or outhouse as a child. The worst part in the summer was trying to keep the wasps from stinging you while you were taking care of your personal business inside the outhouse.
As I watch TV commercials for various toilet papers claiming to be the softest, I am also reminded of the days when we had to use corncobs or pages from a Sears catalog because there was no toilet tissue.
Wintertime and water was no fun either. I can remember waking up a couple of mornings when the fire went out, or was too low and it was so cold in the house that the water in the dogs dish was frozen. So, now when I sit back in a nice hot bubble bath and read a good book, I am “Thankful” for the warmth, privacy, and luxury of having all the water I want, and not worrying about wasps or looking for corncobs.
Another thing I am thankful for is my FREEDOM. While watching a post World War Two movie called, “The Majestic” I noticed a town throwing a parade to honor a soldier that came home, as well as all the sons that gave their lives in the war. I know there were many big cities that threw parades celebrating the end of World War Two, but I don’t remember seeing any parades after Korea, Viet Nam, or Desert Storm was over. Then I realized there was something different about WW II. It was the attack on Pearl Harbor that made the Americans realize that our countries freedom was at stake. That same type of American patriotism was apparent after the September 11th attack and when the Alamo was attacked.
I know from personal experience what it is like to risk your life and freedom to fight for what you know is right. I also know what it is like to loose your freedom and can tell you first hand the physical scars heal much faster then mental ones.
My generation fought in Viet Nam. My father’s generation fought in WW II and Korea. My grandparents’ generation was involved in the WW I effort. Other relatives fought in the Spanish American War and Civil War. It seems like every generation had their battles, yet the most important ones were fought over freedom. So the freedom that I have today, is one of the things I “Give Thanks” for every single day.
I would also like to offer my personal thanks to all the men and women that are currently serving our country in the Armed Forces or have served in the Armed Forces in the past. That includes the 30 + members of my own family that have or are still doing their part to keep our country free.
I think the most positive comment I ever heard, pertaining to having a good outlook on life and being thankful for whatever you have, came from an old friend Marilyn Brixey of Oklahoma. Her mother used to say, “Some people say the glass is half full. Others say it is half empty. Personally, I am just thankful to even have a glass.”
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and if you have a glass, toilet tissue, or running water or live in a free country, then you have a reason for
US Legacies Magazine November 2002