Most of us will be enjoying a day of rest, warmth, family, friends, football and food on Thanksgiving. Others will be serving.
Even amid an ongoing global pandemic, economic unease, political strife and other bad news, Americans will pause over the next few days to give thanks — as they have for almost 150 years — for all that they have.
This year, it seems appropriate to be keenly aware of the people who have served us in these trying years of COVID-19, in increases in crime and racial strife, and in challenges to our routine lives. On occasion, our hospitals have become filled to near capacity with the sick, schools have been shut down, police officers have been attacked, violence in the streets has become more common and brazen, and even the everyday patterns of life — shopping for food, grabbing a bite to eat, going to a movie, enjoying a high school game — has been a challenge.
Thanks to those who serve — nurses and doctors, teachers, police officers, mayors and other civilian leaders, restaurant owners, youth coaches, musicians and other entertainers, store managers, volunteers, and many more — adjustments have been made and life has slowly returned to normal. For that, we are grateful.
Take, for example, the Urbana High School Student Senate’s free Thanksgiving dinner that will return Thursday after a year off for the pandemic. It’s not the same dinner it has been for more than 50 years — a sit-down spread in the school cafeteria, prepared by students and family members — but it’s back. Thanks to Ben Manns and Jorge Mendez at Bunny’s Tavern in Urbana, a full dinner of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, corn and desserts will be prepared Thursday morning at the high school’s kitchen and distributed by students, grab-and-go-style, between 4 and 6 p.m.
There was also last weekend’s Big Give at Stone Creek Church, where 1,300 families got a free turkey and a $25 gift card toward a Thanksgiving meal. Or the food drives conducted by students at Unity and Oakwood high schools. And an early Thanksgiving meal will be prepared this morning for Champaign-Urbana’s homeless and others by the volunteers at the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, across the street from the Champaign police station.
Thanks to all the servants who have worked extra hard for almost two years to keep us healthy and safe, to teach the children, to deliver the goods, to serve the poor and homeless, and to inform and entertain us. You are appreciated.