Representing veterans and military families means we travel a lot. I am sure we have represented folks from at least 40 of the 50 states, and we have litigated cases in over 25 jurisdictions throughout the country. Last week, I was on the road, which happens pretty frequently. Earlier in the week, I was at the deposition of a client in Arizona. The VA there had missed his recurrent cancer. Also in Arizona, I met a family where the father’s life was unnecessarily cut short by the VA simply not sending him to another hospital where the appropriate treatment could have been given. At the end of the week, I took the deposition of a Navy doctor at 29 Palms – a place in a very remote part of Southern California.
On Friday morning, I left Las Vegas before sunrise to make the three-hour drive to 29 Palms. As the sun was coming up, I was in a desert valley perhaps 75 miles out of Las Vegas. The sun was coming up over the ridge to my left and casting its light on the more distant ridge on the right. It was beautiful. I stopped and took the picture below, but my picture does not come close to capturing the actual grandeur of the scene. I was awed.
The day before, I had been a bit sorry for myself. I had left my house at 4:30 Monday morning and I would not get home until late Saturday afternoon. However, sunrise in the desert smacked me in the face with a reminder of how incredibly lucky I am. Scenes like this are part of my job – few are so lucky. I should be thankful – for this small blessing, as well as the bigger ones, good health, my family and the good people I am privileged to work with. Naturally, I cannot forget with those clients who make this work possible.
Our country is full of people who have a hard life – ones infinitely harder than mine. There is much tragedy in our world, both individually and collectively. Some talking heads on television tell us that we are in troubling times, full of dissention and offer varying predictions of doom. The polarization is as bad as I have ever seen - and for those of us who came of age in the 70’s that is saying something. Thursday is, of course, Thanksgiving, that wonderful and uniquely American holiday. Sometimes it is hard to be thankful, and with some good reason. Nonetheless, I suspect that most of us do have something or someone deserving of our gratitude.
Resolutions are usually reserved for New Years, but maybe Thanksgiving resolutions might also be in order. Those of us who have much to be thankful for should also be mindful of those less fortunate. Offering help where we can and kindness always will make each of us and our society a better place – and give more people more to be thankful for.
So, Happy Thanksgiving and may God bless our great land.