My favorite holiday is and has always been Thanksgiving. For me, Thanksgiving is about family, friends, gathering, food and giving thanks for all our blessings. As a kid, it had a different meaning. I grew up, like so many of you, learning not only how to make a turkey out of my paper handprint but about the principles that were behind Thanksgiving. Now we all know that the story we were taught, the portrayal of what transpired between Europeans and Native Americans, is far from the truth. Nevertheless, I like what this make-believe story stands for. As a young child, I was taught that it was about the coming together of the “Pilgrims” and “Indians” to welcome one another, learn about each other’s traditions, break bread and bring unity. Those principles are still important today as they were nearly 400 years ago.  

Having spent the last few months flying all over this nation and the world, I have had a lot of time to reflect. On my most recent trip, returning from abroad, I thought about all the things I miss. Naturally, I thought about my family and friends. But I also thought about how much I missed my country and what it is supposed to stand for. The United States of America has always stood for freedom. Whether it was the Pilgrims fleeing their countries to obtain the freedom of religion or for better opportunities, we know this country was built on immigrants fleeing their countries, risking everything they knew, to come to the land of freedom. As Latinx people, we know this all too well. Many of our families left, some fleeing, their countries to find a better life for their families. Many were welcomed with open arms; others were not. Whether welcomed or not, we were seeking the same thing. 

During this Thanksgiving, I encourage all of us to remember what unites us and not what divides us. At the dinner table, we should honor each other’s differences. Instead of shouting matches at the dinner table because of political ideology, let’s return to the days of Turkey drawings and remember the values Thanksgiving represents: love, unity, relationships, diversity, gratitude, and, of course, blessings.  

I will give thanks to my health, my family, my friends, my Lord and the honor to be serving you as your President. I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.   

Con cariño y amor,

Jennifer Salinas
HNBA National President