U.S. Congress Republican candidate David Schweikert addresses the East Valley Tribune Editorial board during a question and answer session at the Tribune offices in Mesa.

Darryl Webb/FOR THE TRIBUNE

It has become tradition across the country that every November we take time to reflect on all we have been given. And while there is, no doubt, hardship touching all of us in some way, as Americans we still have much to be thankful for.

Nearly 300 years ago, the pilgrims started a grand experiment - the novel concept of freedom and the right to worship. And taking their lead, the Founding Fathers ensured this right and others by enshrining them in the Constitution.

The right to speak and worship freely and the freedom to express our thoughts and opinions without persecution is something we should never take for granted.

In addition to the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, we all have individual blessings to be thankful for as well. Let me share with you just a few things I am thankful for.

Perhaps more than anything, I, like many of you, am thankful for my family and the opportunity to spend holidays like Thanksgiving with them.

Our long-standing Thanksgiving tradition has been one complete with family everywhere - both our Arizona family and my birth family.

Every Thanksgiving Day, Joyce, Charlie our dog, and I enjoy our morning in a local parade. We hand out sweet rolls while my sister holds Charlie back from eating them all.

After we spend the morning with our Arizona family, we rush off to Big Bear, Calif., where we share Thanksgiving dinner with my birth mother's family.

As many of you know, soon after I was born, I was adopted by a wonderful family. Then, nearly 15 years ago, I met my birth mother.

Ever since then, Thanksgiving has been a time of year when my two half-sisters, birth mother, and her whole side of the family spend time together.

I was so blessed to have met them those 15 years ago and am always reminded how thankful I am to have not one - but two - loving families.

Finally, I am thankful for the opportunity to live in such a beautiful community and a wonderful state that we all call home.

There is no doubt that our lives gets busy. Sometimes we hardly have time anymore to think about all that we have and all that goes right.

So let's take time to stop and think.

What are you thankful for?

• David Schweikert, R-Ariz., is a member of Congress in Arizona's District 5, which includes Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him locally at (480) 946-2411 or in Washington D.C. at (202) 225-2190.

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