There's plenty to give thanks for this season

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Next week, we will come together as a nation and celebrate a uniquely American holiday: Thanksgiving. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season will officially be underway, and before you know it we'll be ringing in the second decade of the 21st century.

But before we all succumb to a pleasant tryptophan induced slumber on Thursday, please join me in a little reflection on 2010.

This time of year, we often think about looking back and making a list of things we should be thankful for.

While some would have us believe the nation is still in crisis, uncertainty abounds, the economy is still struggling ... the reality is, if all else fails, we can THANK GOD WE LIVE IN THE USA!

I'm not going to pretend that 2010 will go down in the record books as a "banner year" for the nation, but we have plenty to be proud of.

While not quite out of the woods, our economy has proved the doomsdayers wrong again. Companies across the country are rebuilding, unemployment lines are shrinking and the worst of the housing problems seem to be behind us. And through it all, rather than losing our national identity, we have instead reinforced what America means to the world.

No other nation has repeatedly proven resilience in the toughest times, no other nation has the opportunities, and despite our own struggles, we continued to reach out and lend a hand to those hit by natural disaster, disease, or other tragedies.

Throughout the year, team AEDC stood as a shining example of giving in tough times, and time after time, reminded me of what makes this place so special.

From diving in to perform life-saving acts for a colleague to joining the relief efforts in the Nashville floods, you proved that at AEDC, we will not retreat when our own circumstances have room for improvement.

We just completed our annual Combined Federal Campaign, and despite our challenges, we exceeded last year's record contribution. It's so easy to hunker down and "look out for the ol' number one" these days, but it just doesn't happen here. I for one, will have that at the top of my "list."

For that, I am truly thankful. It's what makes team AEDC a different place to work and live, and we have so much more than that to celebrate on Thursday.

I know this has been a particularly challenging year for our workforce, and sadly we are smaller than we were last year. But our mission became no less important, the work no less challenging, and the need to bring AEDC to bear on the nation's challenges if anything, actually grew. You met the challenges head on, and despite a tough headwind, we racked up another round of "firsts" for the center, and delivered critical solutions that only AEDC could. The fact that we did it amidst less than ideal circumstances is just one more reason I am truly thankful to be here at AEDC.

As we head into the holiday season, I hope you will continue to keep the needs of those who are still struggling in mind. There are so many ways we can help "spread the holiday cheer," and this year, those who can really use a lift are putting a strain on the organizations that are committed to lending a hand. So this year, think about a different way to spend "black Friday." Rather than fight the crowds, how about spending some time with a local charity? Or helping out at a church function, or maybe "ringing the bell" in front of the mall? It's this spirit of giving that will make this year stand out, and once again prove that we all have so much to be thankful for.

I can't thank you all enough for your amazing efforts this year. I couldn't be prouder of what you've accomplished, and the class you have shown in tough times. Best of all, we KNOW we made a difference, in our work, in our giving, and in our tireless efforts to make lemonade out of the lemons that came our way. So when we raise our glasses around the table next week, I will have this place, and this team on my "list." This will indeed be a Thanksgiving to remember!