Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving and praise in 1863 by order of Abraham Lincoln. It was proclaimed during the midst of the American Civil War which would eventually claim 620,000 American lives. I have often wondered how anyone could be thankful during such a divisive and brutal war, but somehow as Americans we seem to find the attitude of thanksgiving deep within our souls even in the darkest of times.
Like most of you, I am first and foremost thankful for my family and especially my wife, Deborah, who has been more than patient as we worked to build the reputation of our teacher licensure program. At times I have spent too many hours at work. We are especially thankful for our children and grandchildren. My daughter is Jennifer, and Deborah’s daughters are Anna, Meg and Trisha. The fathers of our grandchildren are Jeffery Mowdy and David Weaver, and our grandchildren are Savannah, Daniel, Isabella, and Victoria. Each of our grandchildren is unique in his/her own special way. We are blessed.
I am thankful we live in a country where we are not afraid to send our daughters and granddaughters to school simply because they are girls. We are not concerned that a radical religious fundamentalist will drive by on a motorbike and throw acid in their faces. Neither are we fearful that their teachers will be murdered during the night as they sleep in their homes. Our girls can dream of being a doctor, engineer, scientist, or president… just like the boys.
I am thankful that the administrators and teachers in our public schools do not have the authority to indoctrinate our children in religious dogma to which parents do not adhere. A few words taken from the Abington School District v. Schempp Supreme Court ruling in 1963 have a powerful meaning,
The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind….
In relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality. Consequently, we are not ruled by those who want to impose their intolerant religious dogma on everyone in our society.
I am thankful for our teachers who, in the midst of No Child Left Behind, Common Core and the political vicissitudes surrounding educational policy, have maintained their focus on the essential needs of their students. They have had the foresight to take beneficial elements from each new program and strategy that comes down from on high.
I am thankful for the young men and women who serve in the armed forces and defend this liberal democracy and our belief in freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms we often take for granted. They defend our country and our values where pluralism is a virtue and strength.
I am thankful for the alumni of the Maryville College Teacher Licensure Program who enter their classrooms or administrative offices each day with a fresh commitment to meeting the needs of our children. They deserve all the credit for building the reputation of Maryville College and this Teacher Licensure Program.
I am thankful that I can go to work every day. I live in a state of perpetual grace.
Finally, I am thankful for Dr. Alesia Orren, Dr. Rebecca Lucas, Dr. Jill Mertz, and Ms. Bonnie West. They do all the work; I just get the credit.
Bless You My Children,
Terry L. Simpson