I believe this year’s holiday season will have special meaning for many of us. This is usually a time of reflection and thanks, but the American people have a deeper sense of purpose this year.
The events of September 11, the threat of anthrax in our mail system, and our heightened sense of vigilance in the face of terrorism have led the American people to some soul searching and a reevaluation of many of our priorities.
As we have gone through Thanksgiving and approach Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year, we realize there is much for which we should be thankful.
We live in a free and open society. We are part of a nation that values individualism and believes differences of opinion are part of what makes us great. We live in a country in which we are allowed to practice our faith of choice without interference from the government or other individuals.
In our own community we also have much for which we should be thankful. We have a sense of community spirit and pride I believe cannot be matched by any other area of this state, or any community of this size in the country. It is this giving spirit that epitomizes the character of Peoria.
Philanthropy is a hallmark of our city. The generosity exhibited year-in and year-out by the citizens and businesses of Peoria make our area what it is today. Campaigns such as the United Way Campaign, this year chaired by Dan Silverthorn; the Salvation Army’s Tree of Lights Campaign, chaired by Lynn and Jerry Flaherty this year; the capital campaign for the YWCA chaired by Dr. Don Rager; and the campaign for the Center for Prevention of Abuse chaired by Flo and Sid Banwart are high profile reminders of what is in the hearts of Peorians. Throughout the year, people from all walks of life step forward in our community to make it a better place to live and to help our fellow citizens. This area-wide spirit of benevolence is what puts Peoria a step above other communities.
We have also seen a renewed spirit of community in Washington. In the wake of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, both parties put aside the high-profile partisan bickering that has been the trademark of national politics for the better part of the past decade. We still have our difference of opinion on issues, but there is no difference in our resolve to fight terrorism around the globe and ensure the safety of American citizens.
During the holidays this year, I urge everyone to continue the spirit of community and giving that has come to the forefront after September 11. Social service groups still need money and volunteers. Blood banks still need donations. The patriotism shown lately should continue right through the holiday decorations. As the New Year approaches, I urge everyone to pray for the victims and families of the tragedies and their aftermath. Pray for the people of Afghanistan and everyone living under oppressive regimes. And pray that our community will continue to prosper and be home to such a giving and benevolent citizenry. Happy holidays. IBI