The events of and since Sept. 11 have the potential to color most Americans' Thanksgiving holiday in one of two ways:
1. When we sit down Thursday at our dining room tables laden with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings, we will have a new appreciation of just how precious this national ritual of counting our blessings is;
2. Or, still grieving our losses from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, we will question what we have to give thanks for this year.
Our hope is that as Kenai Peninsula residents gather for feasts with family and friends, that no matter what personal and collective losses we have suffered over the past year, we still will find many things for which we are grateful.
Those "things" may be different than in the past. We suspect we will treasure our material possessions less, while matters of the heart -- family and friends -- we will appreciate more. Our concern over bad economic news, including falling oil prices, is likely to take a back seat to our gratitude for the meal before us on this Thanksgiving holiday and the bounty it represents. The family stuff that has marred holidays past will appear insignificant this year as we remember those thousands of families who are missing loved ones this season because of the terrorist attacks.
As a nation, the Sept. 11 attacks have helped us re-examine our priorities; they stand as a painful reminder of how much freedom costs.
Among the many freedoms we traditionally take for granted is a free press. The Sept. 11 attacks and the ongoing war against terrorism have underscored the importance of information; that information has been a key ingredient in uniting the country in this time of crisis. Recognizing the importance of that information, the Clarion has shifted its focus since Sept. 11 -- running at least one national or international story on its front pages. In days gone by, local and state news would have been our Page 1 priority, but these are different times; people need to know what's going on beyond familiar borders. As we celebrate a free press, we also are awed by the responsibility such a liberty carries.
Beyond a free press, the Clarion has many other things for which it is grateful. It has become a tradition to share those blessings at this time of year.
Chief among the things for which we are grateful are the readers and advertisers who keep us in business. Without you, we cease to be.
It takes a village to raise a child -- and to produce a newspaper. There are countless people who help us in the task; we are grateful for their many and varied contributions. Among them:
The elected officials -- and employees -- at all levels of government who recognize an informed community is in everyone's best interest.
Our Neighbors columnists, the writers in our scattered communities who tell us what's going on in their neck of the woods every Tuesday. Some of these writers have been helping us since the idea for our "Neighbors" pages was conceived a decade ago. Our sincere appreciation to Mavis Blazy-Lancaster of Soldotna, Marlene Blough of Ninilchik, Barbara Caswell of Sterling, Joan Hansen of Kenai, Beth Jones of Nikiski, Mona Painter of Cooper Landing and Shawna Wolk of Kasilof.
Les Palmer of Sterling, who writes "An Outdoor View," which appears every Friday.
A.E. Poynor, whose award-winning "Of Moose and Men" column appears every Sunday.
Linda Athons, who writes "The Home File" which appears every Sunday, and the rest of the folks at the Alaska Cooperative Extension office who provide us with a wealth of information.
The people at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge who write "Refuge Notebook," which appears every Friday.
Those in nonprofit groups who help us get the word out on what they are doing.
Fans, coaches and players spread throughout the Kenai Peninsula and the rest of Alaska who help us keep track of all that's going on in the world of sports.
The people in our schools who keep us posted about everything that's going on in peninsula classrooms.
Those who call with tips -- or complaints. Your calls are appreciated. They help us re-examine our idea of what "news" is and what readers want.
Those who write letters to the editor. You provide thousands of people with food for thought with your insights.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of you who make the Clarion happen.
Our holiday wish for all of you is that you have a safe, joyful Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love.
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