As Americans are preparing for the biggest holiday saice the COVID-19 pandemic was declared to be permanently part of the American history books, declarations have been handed down from on high, revoking rights fought for by men in three-pointed hats.
They stood in the snow with muskets, they used lanterns to signal coming attacks, they met in secret (because meeting in large groups to talk of something considered unacceptable by people they had no connection to was banned), and they pulled the trigger on the shot heard around the world.
More than 200 years ago, the first patriots gathered when they were told not to gather and did what they were told not to do because freedom meant something to them.
Thanksgiving, another uniquely American tradition where we honor those who came before us, prompts many Americans to contemplate whether they should give up the rights our forefathers fought for, at the behest of governors and state lawmakers who cite a potential ill Americans are forced to avoid exposure to.
In the face of that trying decision, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem offered her statement as a reminder that the people of the United States have never given up their right to free assembly, and never should. While those in her constituency are encouraged to exercise caution their rights have still not been revoked, nor should they.
“Thanksgiving is around the corner, and across the country families are planning how to celebrate with their loved-ones in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Noem said. “Some states across the country are imposing restrictions on Thanksgiving celebrations. Some in the media are even looking ahead and planning to cancel Christmas. In South Dakota, we won’t stop or discourage you from thanking God and spending time together this Thanksgiving.
“I’ll continue to encourage each and every one of you to exercise personal responsibility and make smart choices for yourselves and your loved-ones. As you dig in to enjoy that delicious turkey and stuffing, make sure that everyone in your household is practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands. If someone in your family is in the vulnerable population, take extra precautions to keep them safe.
“Smaller gatherings may be smarter this year. Let’s make sure to use common sense when we’re planning our celebrations. If you or someone in your family is sick or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it may be best to stay home and join your loved-ones over FaceTime, Skype, or another app. As we learn more about COVID symptoms, it can be hard to keep track of them all, so visit the CDC website to refresh your memory.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you why we haven’t taken certain actions here in South Dakota. Your friends and family in other states might be living through renewed lockdowns or shelter-in-place orders. They may be mandated to wear masks. Here in South Dakota, we took a different path.
“The truth is, there is no science to support the claim that lockdowns stop the spread of the virus. The virus will spread – we cannot stop it until there is a cure – but we can slow it down with mitigation measures. Not even mask mandates have stopped cases from rising in communities. On the other hand, such actions can devastate our livelihoods and our ability to provide for our families. In South Dakota, we’ve fought the virus while still allowing you to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head.
“Let’s all take the time to remember what Thanksgiving is all about – thanking God for everything that he has blessed us with in our lives. During difficult times, it’s important to be extra thankful for what we have, for time with family, for the tremendous blessings that we have as citizens of the United States of America. Even on our worst day, we are still better off than the vast majority of the people in the world because we woke up in America.
“This year, my family will send up thanks for the years we’ve spent with each other and the years to come. We’ll also thank God that we get to live in the greatest nation in human history, one founded on the key principles of freedom, equality, and opportunity. I’ll be thankful for the tremendous opportunity to serve the people of South Dakota and for the trust that you’ve shown me throughout this pandemic. Thank you, and may God richly bless your Thanksgiving.”
So please, if ever you’re tempted to cut down your guest list because of something a politician said (and not just because you don’t like some of your family members), remember what Benjamin Franklin said:
“We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.