Seventy years ago, in 1941, as the United States watched an expanding world war unfolding in Europe and the Pacific, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered a state-of-the-union address to Congress that rallied a nation then and has resounded through the decades since.

He outlined 4 freedoms — to worship, of speech, from want, from fear — that he called fundamental to people everywhere.

Those 4 freedoms spring to mind more clearly here at Thanksgiving than even on that day we celebrate freedom, the 4th of July. Maybe that’s because “freedom from want” is so obviously celebrated on Thanksgiving, our most American of holidays.

We have much to thankful for right here in Hampshire County, starting with the farms that provide us more than just food, but also jobs and the bedrock for our community.

What would Hampshire High be without its FFA program or Hampshire summers be without the County Fair? And what would those be without our farms?

As we enjoy our bounty, we’re grateful, too, for the hands that make sure so many are fed, especially those in the most need. We have volunteers who work year round at food pantries and backpack programs to ensure that needy children in all 6 elementary schools have food to see them through hungry weekends.

Along with freedom from want, we enjoy freedom from fear — even in these scary times. While we enjoy our Thanksgiving feasts, there are those who ensure our security. We are grateful for them and all those who stand vigilant on the front lines against terror, war, crime and disaster — our military, our law enforcers, our firefighters and our rescue squads.

Freedom to worship could go without saying in Hampshire County, where 100-plus churches dot the landscape and spread the Gospel. But at Thanksgiving we should not be silent in our gratitude for these houses of worship, of fellowship and of charitable outreach.

Nor should we overlook the enclaves in Three Churches and High View that bring transcendental meditationalists and Buddhists to our quiet hills.

As the Psalmist says, “The mountains shall bring peace to the people.”

And, of course, we thank God for the freedom to speak what’s in our hearts and on our minds. As a newspaper we are especially mindful of this Constitutional guarantee, but our gratitude extends to everyone who utters an opinion, who stands behind a belief, who wades into the public discourse, who steps forward to govern.

We are blessed, Hampshire County, and we urge each of you to take time on Thanksgiving to share your gratitude.

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