WASHINGTON D.C. — In the Weekly Republican Address, Sen. Mike Lee delivers a Thanksgiving message that pays tribute to the men and women in uniform who protect our nation, the millions of volunteers who care for those less fortunate at food banks, senior centers and homeless shelters and the moms and dads who provide loving and supportive homes for their children.
Americans, he said, have much to be thankful for.
“I know it’s going to take hard work to overcome the problems besetting our economy,” Lee said, “but the American people never shrink from our greatest challenges. We always confront them, head on. In America freedom has never meant ‘you’re on your own.’ For us, freedom means, and has always meant, ‘we’re all in this together.’”
Following is a transcript of Lee’s speech:
My fellow Americans: I am Senator Mike Lee from Utah. On this day of Thanksgiving I would like to take a moment to celebrate, and give thanks for, this great nation of ours, and for all the people who make it so. For I believe that America is exceptional not because of who we are, but because of what we do.
I am thankful for our men and women in uniform who protect our national security and the American way of life — especially those who are serving overseas this holiday. You and your families are in our prayers.
I am thankful for the untold millions of Americans who serve their communities, whether in their jobs or just in their spare time; and for those who will spend a portion of their holiday caring for those less fortunate — in food banks, senior centers and homeless shelters. Your generosity and compassion inspire us all. And your acts of kindness — large and small — are what bind us together.
And I am thankful for all the moms and dads out there who work so hard to provide a loving and supportive home for their children. You are the building blocks of these United States. Everything we do begins with you.
There are many challenges facing our nation today. And many individuals, families and communities are struggling.
We have too many Americans trapped in poverty, sometimes for generations, and often because the dysfunctional, big government programs that are supposed to help them only make it harder and less likely for them, and their children, to build a better life.
Too many hardworking families are being stretched to the breaking point, and beyond, as health care costs, payroll taxes, and housing costs keep rising, while take-home pay remains stagnant.
And yet we still have much to be thankful for as a country. Despite these challenges and despite the discredited, bipartisan status quo in Washington, I am convinced that our best days as a nation remain yet ahead of us.
My optimism for America’s future isn’t some starry-eyed wishful thinking. I know it’s going to take hard work to overcome the problems besetting our economy and to rise above the dysfunction plaguing our politics.
But the American people never shrink from our greatest challenges. We always confront them, head on.
In America freedom has never meant ‘you’re on your own.’ For us, freedom means, and has always meant, ‘we’re all in this together.’
We have always aspired to be a nation where everyone can earn a good living and, more importantly, build a good life through our free market economy and voluntary civil society … where the strong and the vulnerable alike can pursue their happiness, and find it … together.
And let’s not forget the limited, but vital, role that a constitutionally limited government plays in facilitating upward mobility and removing the obstacles to opportunity for every American.
My home state of Utah is a model of upward mobility and opportunity — one that policymakers in Washington would be wise to follow.
All across my state we see widespread prosperity, achieved through a combination of efficient local government, a thriving economy, an active civil society and perhaps the most successful private welfare system in the world.
The Utah model — which is really just the American model in miniature — has been a beacon of hope and opportunity from the state’s earliest days… even back when it was just an outpost settlement on the frontier.
In October 1856, two groups of pioneers on their way to Utah were stuck on the plains of Wyoming. A report sent ahead to Salt Lake City told of: ‘between five and six hundred men, women and children, worn by drawing handcarts through the snow and mud; fainting by the wayside; falling, chilled by the cold; children crying…; their feet bleeding and some of them bare to snow and frost.’
Upon reading the letter, Brigham Young called the people to action with a simple message — he said: ‘Many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts … and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them.’
He said he would not wait until tomorrow or the next day. He called for forty young men, sixty five teams of mules or horses and wagons loaded with provisions to leave immediately to rescue those pioneers in the wilderness.
‘I will tell you all,’ Young said, ‘that your faith… and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you… unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching…. Go and bring in those people now on the plains.’
The rescue party quickly assembled and headed East.
Days later, they reached the pioneers — with food and blankets and hope. The survivors were then carried, some literally on the backs of their rescuers, to Salt Lake — home at last, to a city they had never seen but to a community where they belonged.
Today, millions more of our neighbors are still out on the plains. They are not some government’s brothers and sisters — they are ours.
And the time has come to do something about it. As Americans, we have it in our power — individually, together, and where necessary through government — to bring them in.
From my family to yours: Happy Thanksgiving and God bless us all.