On Thursday, Americans across our great nation and throughout Missouri will come together to share a meal of Thanksgiving. As always, this tradition allows us to take stock of one of life’s deepest gifts: common fellowship with friends, family and other loved ones. As we gather, let us all take a moment to consider how truly blessed we are to live in a free, democratic society that affords us this glorious opportunity each year.

Sometimes life is frustrating, and it seems our many differences are too great to overcome. As 2017 winds down, I encourage each and every Missourian, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, to think more optimistically. There’s more that unites us than divides us, and the upcoming week provides the perfect excuse to set aside our arguments and simply enjoy each other’s company.

In our country, everyone has the right to speak up for what they believe. We will never truly agree on everything all the time, but that just demonstrates the extent of the freedoms we have come to enjoy. Although our society isn’t perfect, it is free. We should be thankful for that each and every day, but especially around this time of year, as we draw close to our loved ones.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks for the wealth and prosperity of our great nation, and the men and women in uniform who defend our liberties every day. As we enjoy our time with friends and family, we should take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in the United States of America — one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Freedom isn’t free, and we should never take it for granted.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.