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Editorial: Celebrating - the American way

Could it be coincidence that national elections, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving all fall in the same month?

On the first we celebrate our freedom to choose our leader. On the second we honor those who have defended that freedom. On the third we give thanks in a more general way for being fortunate enough to live in the best country in the world.

This year just having the elections finished is surely cause enough for feasting. It not only seems the campaigns went on for years - they did.

But when the ballot dust settled the next morning, we knew that, whoever won, the transition from one regime to another would be bloodless - no small accomplishment in this violent world.

Campaigns enticed us with half-truths and half-baked promises, not with threats and intimidation. Despite what extremists on either side may have insisted, the choice was between two enormously talented and capable candidates.

As fanatical as many of us were about the candidates we supported, this was an important, but not a life-and-death, decision.

We hear daily about the tough economic times facing our economy. But only in America could we mourn the loss of the value of our stock portfolios or, for others, the loss of houses they couldn't afford from the beginning.

Around the world, people live in abject poverty, where "laws" are enforced by those who pull together the most goons and weaponry. Genocide, forced abortions, refugee camps and terror are a part of life.

Not in the United States. We are spoiled, and even worse, we are too spoiled to notice.

We have come to believe we can have whatever we want - bigger, better, more - and have it now. Easy credit tempted us to indulgences: houses that are obscenely large, consumer goods valued not because of their utility but because of their meaningless designer labels, and gadgets that isolate us while giving the illusion of closeness.

We scream for health care reform, and yet we are living longer than ever before. Admittedly, there are those who suffer from the inability to afford medical care. But we are Americans. When we put our minds and hearts to this problem, we will solve it as we have solved so many others.

Our "hardships," truth be told, don't justify the term.

As we join our families next week at tables laden with bounty, think of this: We are the luckiest people on Earth. We have no right to forget that.