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Opinion | Much to be thankful for

As the year draws to a close and we enter another holiday season, I’m reminded we have much to be thankful for.

First, I’m thankful for those who answer the call to service at home and abroad.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the never-ending news coverage of political squabbles, but the men and women of our military are doing extraordinary things to keep global threats at bay.

Our country remains the freest nation in the world because of their sacrifices.

Imagine for a moment living in the volatile Middle East, or in Hong Kong in an escalating battle against China for basic rights, or under an oppressive regime like North Korea. Think of how fortunate we are not only for our military but our system of government!

Just recently, our military scored a major victory by taking out the top ISIS commander. The American people are safer as a result of their courage and incredible work and planning.

Earlier this year I visited our Southern border with Mexico. During this eye-opening visit, I gained a new appreciation for the work our law enforcement agencies and military are doing to stem the tide of drugs, human traffickers and other criminals crossing into our country.

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And in a world full of danger, our law enforcement keeps our communities safe. Last week, we were tragically reminded of the very real danger our law enforcement officers face every day when Lowndes County Sheriff “Big John” Williams was killed in the line of duty.

We should thank God each day for our military, veterans and law enforcement officers. This great American experiment could not proceed without the daily sacrifices of those like Sheriff Williams. The remembrances and kind words pouring in from across the state have been incredibly moving.

I’m thankful for my brother Dale. My brother retired from the Alabama National Guard as a command sergeant major. I think of Dale and his selflessness in serving our nation every day.

This Spring I was afforded the opportunity to speak at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens. In a speech titled “what does it mean to be an American?” I discussed the great gifts, and responsibilities, of our representative democracy. It was a treasured experience and poignant reminder of how thankful we should be for this nation.

I’m thankful for the state of Alabama, its wonderful people, and the opportunity to serve you in Washington. It is a blessing and an honor to represent you in our nation’s capital, and I do not take it lightly.

I could not serve without my dedicated staff who care deeply for our country and the people we serve. I’m thankful for their commitment to the people of Southwest Alabama.

Little is more important than family, and I have been blessed beyond measure by mine. My wife Rebecca is an amazing woman, and we are so proud of our children. I’m thankful for the opportunity Rebecca and I have gained in recent years to spoil our grandchildren!

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I’m thankful for the fall season, the changing leaves in Alabama, and football. This time of year reminds me of some of my happiest memories hunting with my boys and spending time with family at the farm.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my God. I would not be able to accomplish anything without His constant encouragement and blessings.

Through the seemingly nonstop bustle of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, it’s important to keep the big things big and the little things little. As Philippians 4:6 instructs us, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

I pray you have a blessed Thanksgiving.


Bradley Byrne is the president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and a former Republican congressman who represented Alabama's 1st Congressional District.

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