Daily, Eric chimes “It’s almost Thanksgiving!” Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday, we were preparing for Christmas 2016.
And, looking back to the previous year, there’s much to give thanks for.
First, while Guam is an announced missile target of North Korea, we’re still here. While some will say that we are a target because of our alliance with the United States, I suggest that our alliance has in fact provided security in many ways.
You can ask the Greatest Generation, our war survivors.
As well, while our political status excludes us from basic rights and responsibilities such as voting for the Commander in Chief, we are able to speak what we think.
This in itself has allowed the activists to stand and be heard.
There are other rights associated with being a part of America. Like having the number of children you want or having a girl. Like going to school, voting, thinking, traveling, creating, worshipping whom you want, working as you choose, living as you want – all parts of a democracy.
Further, Guam soldiers and their families constitute the highest per capita number of those who sacrifice and serve our nation. Guam families have made it clear that the military life is something they are attracted to and committed to.
Of course, there are items to be improved. Like federal initiatives that unfairly strong hold our funds – like EITC. While others have federal funds for the earned income tax credit, Guam does not. There are Compact Impact costs. While we welcome our brothers and sisters, we ask for adequate funding to support them.
Access to veteran health care needs to be improved. Spend a little time listening to the families and you will know the pain needs to be alleviated.
We give thanks to our government of Guam public servants. At one time, government was the place to be. Then, it evolved to a place where you were taunted. While there may still be ghost employees, by and large, these professionals report to work every day and make public service work. This is even more challenging than keeping up when times are difficult. For example, updating technology would spur efficiency. The ability to access more services online would kick us into the 21st century. We have begun this effort but the outcomes are only slowly being seen.
We give thanks for the non-profit entities. They get grant funds and help our families in many different ways. They help many at-risk segments – from those who need a safe place to stay to those who need support in how to improve relationships. These organizations focus on people – and, as we well know, it’s always about the people.
We give thanks to families for forming our future. Parenting is an exhausting, essential job. It’s the most important job on earth which, incredibly, doesn’t require any training.
We give thanks to God for sparing us bad weather. Some won’t know how to best prepare if we ever get hit as we did from 1990 – 2002 where we buckled down for six typhoons. Some of us just kept our typhoon shutters up – just because it was easier.
We give thanks to DPW, GPA and others who are trimming trees and clearing refuse. Our typhoon experience has hardened our infrastructure. Still, we give thanks to our Lady of Camarin for watching over us.
I thank God for patiently helping me understand His plan. It has been a challenging year but we’re making it. Ryan is home and I celebrate every day! Eric is improving and I give thanks every day. We give thanks to our coach, Lane Jo for the support and guidance!
Blessed Thanksgiving to each of you!
Aline Yamashita is an educator and former senator. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org