Tomorrow, in the company of friends and loved ones, we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday. And it’s a chance for us to spend time with the people we care about and to give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy; and to think about just how lucky we are to live in the greatest nation on Earth.
But it’s also a time to remember those who are less fortunate—and this year, that’s particularly true for our neighbors in the Northeast who have lost their homes and their possessions, and even their loved ones to Hurricane Sandy.
In the last few weeks, I had a chance to visit both New Jersey and New York. And while I’ve seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and heartbreaking loss and devastation, I have yet to find a broken spirit.
Countless stories of courage, and compassion, and resilience have emerged in the aftermath of the storm. But one that comes to mind today is about a tree on Staten Island. It’s a giant blue spruce that came crashing down in the front yard of Joseph Ingenito, whose home in New Dorp Beach flooded during the hurricane. Today, if you go to Joseph’s street, you’ll see a lot of damage and debris scattered all over the block. But you’ll also see the top of that tree, standing tall in front of his house, decorated with ornaments that survived the storm, along with anything else his neighbors could find including empty cups and surgical masks and safety goggles. It’s a Christmas tree, and it’s there to remind the neighborhood that there will still be holidays to celebrate, and happy moments to share, and life will go on. And we will rebuild.
And so tomorrow, we give thanks—not only for the things that we have, or the people we love, but for the spirit that sees us through the toughest times, and holds us together as one American family, guided along our journey by the hope of a better day.
—President Obama at today's National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon