Just think about it. The United States just went through another election and no matter who you supported with your vote, you have to admit there is something special about the way we do it in our country. Once again, we will have a peaceful transition of power, just as we do every four years. Only a country where people are truly free can that take place every four years.
There are so many people in this world who would gladly change places with us.
We also live in a country that stresses human dignity and personal liberty, and if you can't be thankful for those things, then you need to pack your bags and get out of here quick! I've been blessed to travel to 62 countries and I can tell you there is no place on earth like the United States of America. There is a reason that everyone in the world wants to come live here. It's because here in the US, you can feel free and know that if you have an idea, the willingness to work hard and the dedication to get something done, you can be what you want to be and do what you want to do. There's no other place on earth that offers so much to each and every person!
We also live in a country where our sports are important. Nowhere in the world is there anything like what we experience those afternoons in the fall when our stadiums fill up and we cheer on the teams that wear the colors of our universities and colleges. I've had the opportunity to attend and write about just about every kind of important sporting event there is, and my favorites remain college football and college basketball.
Oh, I hear all about how the players are semi-professional, not really concerned about an education and just looking to enhance a pro career, but I don't think that's true for the bulk of them, and I think that 99.9 per cent of all the college athletes really do care about winning one for their fellow students and the alumni who support the programs so well.
I can tell you from experience that there isn't a pro football venue even remotely close to being in the league of The Swamp. When 90,000 Gators start rocking the joint, the earth moves, and while there may be some rowdy pro stadiums, there isn't a one of them that can generate the noise and the electricity that you will find on a Saturday at The Swamp.
If you haven't been to the O'Dome when the place is packed to the rafters to see Billy D and his Men in Shorts go after it, then you're missing something, too. No, it's not Kentucky or Duke, but we have our own kind of craziness at the O'Dome and it is special.
And it isn't just the big ticket sports of football and basketball that make the Gator experience one for which we can all be thankful, it's everything from women's soccer to cross country, from volleyball to baseball, tennis to golf and track to gymnastics. I'm sure I join all of you in being thankful that Jeremy Foley and his staff give us the greatest athletic program at any school in the country!
It really is great to be a Florida Gator! I've been a Gator all my life and I can't, for the life of me, understand why anyone would willingly be anything else. I've had all the ups and downs that one can experience following our teams, but I've never once regretted being a Gator and I'll be one until the day I die.
I'm also thankful that Gator fans are so passionate about our school, about our teams, about our coaches. We have our disagreements but we have them because we all love our school so much and while opinions may vary, the bottom line is that we all want what is best for the University of Florida.
So, on this Thanksgiving, I just want to say to all of you on behalf of all of us at Gator Country, enjoy your day, be safe, take time to say I love you to the ones who mean so much to you, and be careful on your way home if you're traveling. You're a Gator and that means we need you!
God bless each of you.
Franz Beard, on behalf of:
Ray Hines, Publisher