General Peyer: Thanksgiving a time to reflect on life's blessings Published Nov. 26, 2008 By Major General Polly Peyer WR-ALC ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- In the autumn of 1621, the pilgrims of Plymouth Colony celebrated the first Thanksgiving. It was a time for the settlers of this newly discovered land to rejoice in all they had accomplished after a year of particularly cruel hardship. The founders of our nation set aside three entire days to celebrate their survival. The pilgrims had experienced and learned much to get them through the difficulties of life in a strange new environment. With knowledge gleaned from natives of the land, they had adapted to a new land. Powered by an unending faith, they had endured. Their successes and progress under primitive circumstances gave them reason to believe they could prevail over any future challenges. Indeed, they had much to be thankful for. Given the history of this holiday - the story of a people thankful just to be alive -- a question easily comes to mind. How would today's America respond to the challenges of such a rugged situation as our forebears faced? Well, I happen to have an optimistic viewpoint. I firmly believe American people have always been at their very best when confronted with difficulties. I'm certain the old axiom, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going," is a thoroughly American attribute. That's why I'm confident we as a people would make it through the sternest of hardships and come out not only strong, but just as thankful. Those who would question our ability to rise above tough times likely wonder if we've become too soft; overly satisfied in the modern comforts available to so many in this land of plenty. But I truly believe that, put to the test, Americans would emulate the example set by our country's settlers. And my positivism in our society, in our people, remains unshaken no matter what the future may bring. Yes, despite news of bailouts, bankruptcies and economic downturns, I remain optimistic that America will prevail. I know we mustn't take our good standing for granted. I realize things can get complicated in a hurry. I do not doubt that even the strongest nation on earth could be visited by hardship once again. Yet it is those blessings I am so thankful for on this holiday that feed my confidence. Thanksgiving is a great time to remember the timeless attributes that have always made our nation great. As a people, we've forever possessed a winning and patriotic spirit; the will to not only survive and succeed, but to flourish and thrive in the face of adversity. The fires of American effort and dedication have always burned hotter when our nation and our fellow countrymen are most in need. These are among the shining qualities exhibited throughout our history - noble characteristics that link generation to generation of Americans. I know those remarkable qualities are alive and well and among us still. I know this because thousands upon thousands of brave men and women continue to deploy far from their homes and loved ones in service to our country. Like those pilgrims who founded this land, these valiant warriors have put their lives on the line for our nation's freedom and a better life and future for all Americans. We're all proud of them for answering our nation's call. I know we will all send prayers of thanksgiving this holiday for them and the families they have left behind. My confidence in our nation's future is further bolstered by the members of this incredible installation. I am personally thankful on this day for the privilege of leading Team Robins, a group with an astounding 65-plus year history of patriotic support that matches the greatness of the nation we defend. Your continued dedication and excellence are much appreciated. We can be thankful for every blessing that is ours on this special occasion. The love of family and friends. The enjoyment of plentiful food and warmth of shelter. The privileges of living in a nation where freedom and liberty abound. On this Thanksgiving Day, I urge you all to take a moment to reflect upon and count our blessings as Americans, and to strengthen your resolve to meet any and all challenges ahead. And by all means, rest and enjoy the day, and come back to us safely next week. Brian and I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving and a terrific holiday season.