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Giving Thanks

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This post is all about giving thanks. Two weeks ago, we gave thanks to and for our military veterans, those who serve—or have served—to make our way of life possible, and this week is Thanksgiving Day.

Last April, I posted “Saluting Green-Building, HVACR Industries’ Efforts to Employ Veterans," and just in time for Veterans Day, we received word that, with the support of the Copper Development Association, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada (UA) is continuing its Veterans in Piping (VIP) program. In case you missed it, this is the program offering free high-quality skills training in the pipe trades to active-duty military personnel preparing to leave the service and guaranteeing a paid union apprenticeship at a UA Local of the graduate’s choice. I also learned, just before Veterans Day, that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Economic Communities Initiative (VECI) had assigned a local economic liaison to South Florida. VECI was launched last May by Secretary Robert McDonald to help connect businesses with veterans and vice versa. As a veteran-owned small business, my firm is very excited to see these types of programs, as the unemployment rate of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan still is well above the national average. Thanking veterans isn’t just about saying, “Thank you for your service,” on Veterans Day; it’s also about providing opportunities.

This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we have the opportunity to give thanks for all of the good—people and things—in our lives. Thanksgiving is our oldest federal holiday, first celebrated as a national holiday by George Washington in 1789. It has been an annual event since 1863, observed on the last (since 1942, on the fourth, whether or not it’s the last) Thursday in November, after being proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln as a national day of "thanksgiving and praise.” Of course, as every school kid knows, the holiday really has its roots in Plymouth, Mass. That’s where, in 1621, the Pilgrims who had settled there held a three-day feast, to which they invited their Native American neighbors, celebrating their successful fall harvest.

In addition to being a national day of thanks, Thanksgiving has, since the Great Depression, been the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season. Other Thanksgiving traditions, besides stuffing ourselves at the dinner table with traditional fare (OK, maybe the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie isn’t as old of a tradition!), include college football rivalry games (Go Hokies! Beat the Hoos!) and parades. Although I’m an unapologetic capitalist, and I recognize that consumer spending drives the economic engine, I’m nevertheless adding to my thank-you list this year the fact that I don’t have to shop with my wife on Black Friday. Perhaps we should all remember what my acquaintance Dr. Bob Barnes says: “It’s Thanksgiving Day, not thanks-getting day.” Have a wonderful holiday.

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