Although a handful of nations now celebrate Thanksgiving, Americans were the first people to set aside a day to take stock of blessings passed on by God.

Our forbears started the tradition at a time when most of them couldn't take survival for granted. They buried neighbors, family and friends and then broke bread and counted themselves blessed. It's worth emulating that sense of humility.

Consider what we've been through in the last 15 months. We've endured the worst act of terror in our history. We've withstood the most dramatic stock market collapse in history -- one that wiped out $8 trillion in wealth, the equivalent of every good and service our nearly 300 million citizens produce in a full year. We have fought and won a war. We've moved to the precipice of another.

And yet, as 2003 beckons, we continue to flourish. This is nothing short of a miracle.

There's a link between humility, prosperity and survival. We thrive because we strive to care for our blessings, rather than take credit for them -- because we aim to please a creator and glorify grand principles.

For all the hand-wringing about the collapse of standards in America -- a lament as old as the Republic itself -- decency and goodness remain our taproot.

We have grown rich and powerful, but so far we haven't let it go to our heads and that's just one more thing for which we can and should give thanks.