To the point week of 11-13-08

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AS WE APPROACH THANKSGIVING, it is obviously a time when we all stop and give thanks for all that we have.

Even though the holiday is still a couple of weeks away, this past week has reminded me of how thankful that I am and should be for things around me.

Tuesday was Veterans Day, and – as I’ve said many times – although I’m not a veteran, I greatly admire those men and women who risked their lives to protect not only our rights as citizens of this country, but who also protected the lives and rights of people in other countries – many of whom they never met.

Why did they go? Because their country asked them to.

Many times as Americans we take for granted basic freedoms that people in other parts of the world would see as luxuries. I am thankful that when those freedoms are threatened, through the years we’ve had men and women who have answered the call to duty.

Veterans Day is a national holiday, and on Tuesday of this week schools were closed and governmental offices were closed and the post office was closed – all in honor of our veterans.

It is in part a fitting tribute; but perhaps there is no better tribute to our veterans than what took place a week earlier – the free election of our national, state, and local leadership. While we celebrate that just over half of us who were eligible did decide to vote; in other countries around the world people stand in line for hours because of the privilege to vote.

Our soldiers, past and present, have helped to secure that right and other rights for each of us, and we should salute them for that effort.

While we are honoring veterans of the past, we must not forget about our veterans of the present.

On page 9 of today’s edition, you will read an article written by Rita Sullivan that speaks of the need to send items to our soldiers in time for the Christmas holidays. It also talks about the importance of sending cards to wounded and disabled veterans who are recuperating in military hospitals around the world.

Take some time and help with this important effort.

To all veterans, it is my honor to salute you today for the sacrifices that you made both great and small.

I have the honor of leading a free press because of those sacrifices, and they are appreciated greatly.

Thank you.

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When Laci Daugherty’s accident happened on August 4th of this year, this community was getting ready for school to start; getting ready for the Swiss Wine Festival; and the world was getting ready for the Summer Olympics to begin in China.

In the three months since, we saw incredible opening ceremonies and athletic efforts at the Olympics; the Swiss Wine Festival was again a hit; and school is now more than a quarter over.

We have elected a new President to lead our country; we have mourned the loss of one of our high school students; and we have survived the windstorm to end all windstorms.

We have seen the Phillies win the World Series; the Bengals lose eight games; and Texas Tech shock the college football world.

The greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression is upon us; and gas that was once $4 per gallon is now less than $2.

Babies have been born. Family members and friends have passed away.

The world has kept moving.

But through it all, the vast majority of this community has remembered the brave fight of a 17-year old that we all claim as our own.

Laci Daugherty came home on Tuesday. It was dark and late at night and everyone was tired – but she came home.

She still faces challenges and struggles and more surgery. Her parents have prepared to care for her and see to her needs. Family and friends are standing by to continue to provide whatever assistance is needed.

But she came home.

And I am thankful for that.

At times I share my faith in this column, and I don’t mean to “preach” in any particular direction; but if you haven’t seen the hand of God in the recuperation of Laci Elizabeth Daugherty – then you either aren’t looking or choose not to look.

Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Through it all we have seen miracles happen in front of our eyes. We have seen injuries heal and we have seen dangers fade away without explanation.

I have known Laci since the day that she was born, and her father is perhaps my best friend on this planet; but I cannot tell you in words what her return home means to me.

It is a triumph greater than Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals. It is a victory bigger than Barack Obama last Tuesday night. It is more satisfying than if the Bengals win seven in a row and make the playoffs.

She has a ways to go, but I am so thankful that she is here with us and that she is getting stronger and better each and everyday.

I am also thankful to a community that saw unspeakable need and raced in to fill it as best you could. You’ve raised money and you’ve cut grass and you’ve blown leaves and you’ve kept updated on the website.

But most of all, you’ve prayed.

I’ve seen incredible things in the past three months, and I don’t think that’s been an accident.