In honor of the holiday, I am posting a speech that I think exemplifies the spirit of the day. It was originally given on a different national holiday, July 4, by a man who some might say had little to be thankful for. Forced into retirement by a rare and fatal disease at the age of 35, at the peak of his career, no one would have blamed Lou Gehrig for seeming angry, sad, or broken. Instead, he gave a speech so powerful, so moving, that people who know nothing about baseball remember him for his ability to see the blessings in his life, even in the face of terrible adversity.
Here is what he said on the day of his retirement, to a packed Yankee Stadium full of people there to honor him. If you feel you have nothing to be thankful for today, remember Lou Gehrig.
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.
"So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."