COLUMN: "Thanksgiving"

By Lieutenant Governor Mark A. Darr

This week is Thanksgiving and I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with my family, as I know many of you are.

As Americans, we tend to take a lot for granted. It's a challenge for all of us sometimes to appreciate all of the little things that make our lives better or easier. It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of all the store sales and the material things we want. If you consider the daily lives of people in other places around the world, I'd say we have it pretty good. But, you know, Thanksgiving is a good reminder to think about things that are most important - family, friends, faith, health.

Thanksgiving is a time when we see a lot of food drives at schools, businesses, and office places. For many, it is a stressful time of the year, trying to make ends meet. Many Arkansans are out of work, others have loved ones deployed in harm's way. The work that our food banks, religious organizations and nonprofits do around the state during the holidays makes a real difference in people's lives. If you're able to give a little bit to help others who don't have much, I hope that you will.

I want to tell you that I'm thankful for another year serving the people of Arkansas. Everywhere I go, I meet hardworking Arkansans who are trying to do what's best for their families. They want to be hopeful about the future of our state and our country. Their determination to succeed in difficult times gives me hope that we have a bright future ahead of us.
Kim and the kids and I want to wish all of you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving.

In other news, there's been much talk since the general election in the national press about various groups in different states around the country, including ours, calling for secession. Let me go on record as saying this is ridiculous. This isn't the first time in recent years that people have called for leaving the Union because they didn't agree with an election result. Our country has dealt with the secession issue before. The result was a terrible war that cost more lives than any in our history. We are fifty United States. Political divisions are part of our republic by design. Many people on all political sides take that to an extreme and oftentimes when these small factions get attention, their influence seems bigger than it really is. Personally, I am not concerned that any of these secession movements will have any success, but every signature on a secession petition weakens our country just a little bit more.

We have a lot of work to do to in this country. We need to focus on fixing problems rather than running away from them. We will continue to have free elections and will hopefully work together to make our country better. We won't always agree, but that's ok. I am thankful that we live in a free country such as ours. America remains the strongest nation in the world. We need to keep it that way.