While Thanksgiving has become known more as a family gathering — and there’s certainly nothing with that — the spirit of the original Thanksgiving, which brought together the pilgrims and Native Americans for a community feast, has been alive and well in Brazoria County in the days leading into the traditional Turkey Day.
The past two Sundays, schools in Columbia and Sweeny have been the site of free pre-holiday dinners open to anyone who showed up. Both events were created as a way to help disadvantaged families in the area but have broadened their scope to reach as many people as possible with a common goal of unity.
“There was a time and an era before where people used to do something like this,” said Agatha Sanchez, founder of the Sweeny Community Thanksgiving Feast, which was held Sunday, and organizer of its West Columbia cousin, which was held Nov 10. “Not just on church grounds, but the community did. It seems like something you would find in an old novel. We need to look back on how Thanksgiving started and why it started.”
Just as their reach has expanded, so has the popularity of the two dinners. Barrow Elementary teacher Melissa Smith said the turnout at Columbia High School was the biggest it’s been in three years. Sanchez said the event at Sweeny Elementary has gone from serving 21 turkeys in the beginning to 60 turkeys and 40 hams this year, courtesy of the Jones Creek Cookers barbecue team, which offered to make all the turkeys and hams at no cost for the feast.
Which goes to show the spirit of unity in community is catching on. Assisting Sanchez with the West Columbia event were 30 churches, four community organizations and two businesses. Donations of food and funds covered all the requirements to put on the feast, she said.
“It’s a great thing; this is what Thanksgiving is about,” Sanchez said. “It’s about unity, it’s not about poverty. To me, the ideal Thanksgiving is about all of us being together. It has continued to grow and it is a wonderful, beautiful thing.”
Community support for vets evident in area celebrations
Roy Averett, an Army veteran and captain of the Brazoria County Combined Honor Guard who served as “backup” in Germany during the Vietnam War era, commented Monday at the Veterans Day celebration at the Brazoria Heritage Foundation about the harsh treatment veterans of that era received upon coming home.
That’s regrettable. While the Vietnam War was certainly a divisive time in America, regardless of your opinion of U.S. military involvement in conflicts overseas, then and now, nobody should question the commitment and sacrifice of anyone who served.
Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The wealth of goodwill and good feelings displayed at this past week’s Veterans Day celebrations show that attitude has shifted toward respect.
“Brazoria County is probably the best county in the state of Texas for supporting their veterans,” Averett said.
That reverence extends to all ages. Family ties play into that. Regardless of whether you served or not, you probably know someone who has.
Besides offering a chance for the great majority of us who haven’t served to honor the veterans, the celebrations offer an opportunity for those vets to reflect on those shared experiences. Sure, we all bond with the people we work with or join on sports teams. But the spirit of bonhomie veterans is beyond those every-day associations.
“I always come out on Veterans Day to see the old buddies I haven’t seen all year,” said Lloyd Connick, 92, among the oldest Army veterans at Monday’s events.
The support shown for veterans in this county is both a reflection of how far the country has come and how much respect there is for our veterans.
Kentucky governor shows distrust in election process
So incumbent Kentucky Rep. Gov. Matt Bevin has conceded to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear after a bitterly fought race. Election Night results showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast, for a lead of less than 0.4 percentage points.
But Bevin wasn’t ready to give in Nov. 5. “This is a close, close race,” he said. “We are not conceding this race by any stretch.” Without offering evidence, Bevin said there had been “irregularities” in the voting.
Election officials across Kentucky double-checked vote totals Thursday at the governor’s request. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that Thursday’s recanvass of vote counts left the final margin at 5,136 votes, prompting Bevin to announce his concession.
Election experts had said heading into Thursday’s recanvass that vote totals were unlikely to change much, pointing out that the process rarely impacts the outcome of an election. Bevin faced a growing chorus of state Republicans urging him to accept the results of the recanvass unless he could point to evidence of substantial voter fraud.
It’s somewhat disturbing that Bevin, although within his right, would make the challenge in the first place, indicating a distrust of the election process and perhaps letting his personal feelings get in the way of acknowledging the inevitable. Bevin and Besmear, the state’s attorney general, had engaged in a four-year rivalry in which Beshear challenged a series of Bevin’s executive actions. Their feud spread to the campaign trail.
Bevin vowed during his concession speech not to publicly undermine Beshear’s actions once he becomes governor.
But that distrust expressed about the voting results is not becoming of a leader. While the race was close, it’s the accusations of irregularities that sow doubt among citizens that could lead to a distrust in the democratic process we as Americans have come to trust.
Having a recount is one thing. Saying the results shouldn’t be trusted is another. While this is a single case, it can’t come to a point where candidates or incumbents regularly undermine the credibility of the bedrock of this nation in order to save face with voters.