Outrage and ingratitude are the currencies of today’s society. Many people rush to take offense at the tiniest issue or express their discontent with any perceived slight. Unfortunately, our children and grandchildren are learning from our attitudes and will take our negativity to greater heights. This spiral is destructive to every unit of our society and will ultimately lead to the undoing of this country.
It is incumbent upon all of us to stop this cycle of outrage and ingratitude – especially as it pertains to the United States. This Thanksgiving, we can resolve to be the spark that strengthens our society. Instead of continuously looking for a reason to be outraged, we can choose to be grateful for what this country has given us and our families.
I have a unique perspective for being thankful for this country. My family fled communism from the former Yugoslavia. They came to America because this nation could provide them and their descendants with boundless opportunities and freedoms. They understood that the rule of law was the way of life here and that their rights would be protected.
There are many other countries around the world with constitutions or other founding documents that appear to grant protections or freedoms for their citizens. Without adherence to the rule of law, however, those documents mean absolutely nothing – as we’ve seen throughout world history. My family understood that the United States was different in this respect, and I’m thankful for what this nation stands for and the efforts its leaders undertake to enforce the rule of law.
My experience, combined with my family’s history, has strengthened my gratitude for our nation and my resolve to give back and to serve our communities.
Nevertheless, the United States isn’t perfect, and its opportunities for improvement are often magnified by people who have nothing but contempt for this country. Yet, the reality is that no other nation in history has been able to match what we have accomplished and the freedoms we’ve maintained and protected for hundreds of years. The United States has brought more opportunities to more people than any other country. My life is Exhibit A of this fact.
I often think about my hypothetical life if my parents hadn’t fled communism to come to America. I would have little – if any – of the opportunities I have been given. My daughters would not have the freedoms they currently enjoy. My family is not alone with this "what-if" scenario. Millions of families have a similar story of their sacrifices and determination in pursuing the American Dream.
Then I consider my life as it stands now, and I can be nothing but thankful. My family had the courage to immigrate to this country. I was given an opportunity to be educated and obtain my law degree. I was honored to serve as a JAG officer in the U.S. Army. I met my wife when we both worked as prosecutors, and we have been blessed with two daughters. I have been honored to serve as a federal and state prosecutor, helping to protect our communities and enforce the rule of law that is the backbone of our society. I was fortunate to be elected Arizona’s chief law enforcement officer.
Only here could this be the reality of a first-generation American whose first language is not even English. My experience, combined with my family’s history, has strengthened my gratitude for our nation and my resolve to give back and to serve our communities. While we work to create a more perfect union, we must never forget that America remains the most extraordinary place to pursue a better life for more people than we could ever imagine.
This Thanksgiving, let us resolve to be truly grateful for everything we have been given. No matter who we are, what we look like, or where we came from, we are all Americans. We are united in our humanity and our appreciation that our rights are not given to us by other people but given to us by our Creator. And that we have an obligation to fight for all that is good and pass on to our children and grandchildren a nation they can continue to believe in and be thankful for.