Reflections for a Month of Gratitude

This month, Jewish Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital honored Veterans Day with a special tribute of a four-man color guard who did a presentation of colors provided by the Jeffersontown Legion 244, organized by our department of diversity and inclusion.

We paid tribute and remembered all those who sacrificed their lives so that we could be free. For the first time, we were able to show our appreciation to all of the men and women who have served our country, and who now serve our community, by being part of the healing mission of KentuckyOne Health.

As we approach Thanksgiving, we take this moment to pause and give thanks for the courage and self-sacrifice of those who died in the name of justice, freedom, democracy and peace. We remember everyone who perished so that this country could be formed and protected. Let us recommit ourselves to doing all that we can to ensure that the values and ideals for which they fought, remain a shining beacon in our country. May we fulfill our own civic responsibility to ensure that peace and justice be their legacy.

My father, who survived the Holocaust, still remembers the American soldiers who came to the town where he was hiding, and brought with them the news of freedom and the hope of deliverance from tyranny, hatred, oppression and a violence that I pray we will never know again.

Let us take this month to give thanks for all those whose lives and sacrifices make it possible for us to live in this country. Let us commit to doing everything that we can to work for a world where their ideals and values are actualized.

May the Eternal One watch over our country, and may we be blessed with wisdom. This coming Thanksgiving, may we also take some time to remember all those individuals who perished so that we may live in this country that we now call home, and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that each of our neighbors feels at home in this country as well, for as the Torah reminds us: “Be kind to the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to share the following Native American Prayer:

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
You have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(Translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887; published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.)

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