It’s been nearly 400 years since the first Thanksgiving, and while there have been countless changes during that time, one aspect of the original holiday is as true today as it was back then.
Thanksgiving is a day where we come together regardless of race or creed, and give thanks for the things we cherish in our lives.
It’s a day where we can take time to reflect on the experiences that have shaped us, and set goals for the future. It’s can also be a day where we resolve to spend more time focusing on the issues that unite us as human beings, rather than what divides us as people.
When it comes down to it, we all want the same things. We want good jobs with good benefits that allow us to support ourselves and the people we love. We want access to quality affordable healthcare, so we can have the quality of life we deserve. We want safe cities and towns. We want our children to attend good schools, so they can reach their full potential.
And on this day, we can make it clear that we want all of this not just for ourselves, but for every last resident in this great state we call home.
At a time when many people are rightly disgusted by the inaction in Washington, I hope that we can be grateful for the actions we have taken as a state, actions that will serve as a rising tide that will lift all boats.
While the economy is improving and we have more people working today than at any other time since the beginning of the Great Recession, we still have more work to do.
In our cities, there are far too many people who want to work but for many reasons cannot find a job. We need to redouble our efforts and make sure we are creating the same opportunities for everyone.
While we are making gains in improving our schools and have seen graduation rates climb for the last four years, we need to continue to find ways to support our hard working teachers, so they can do the critical work of getting our students ready for the challenges that await them later in life.
These are critical issues that will define us as a state. But we must also look to where we are as a nation, and play a leadership role in getting our country where we need it to be.
We know that income inequality is problem both here in Connecticut and across the nation. But at a time when Washington can’t act and many states won’t act, we took a different path.
We were the first state in the nation to pass legislation that will raise our minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an action that will lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty.
We were the first state in the nation to pass paid sick leave for workers, so that no one has to choose between going to work or losing their job because they are dealing with an illness or caring for a sick relative.
We were able to cut the number of uninsured residents in half because we implemented the Affordable Care Act better than any other state in the nation. We did such a good job that other states are looking to Connecticut to implement our model.
And after years of stonewalling, we were able to give working families a tax break, so they can support their loved ones and put more money back into their communities.
There is no question that more work remains, but I am thankful for all that we have accomplished together.
We have faced many challenges already, and I know that the next four will bring newer and tougher challenges that we will have to face head on.
And when that happens, I will be grateful for the traits that define us as a state.
In our darkest hours, I have been buoyed by the perseverance of our residents, the kindness we exhibit to one another, and the profound belief that I have had confirmed again and again that we are at our best when events throw us their worst.
I know that working together, our state’s best days are in front of us, and I am grateful for the chance to help get us there over these next four years.
All the best to you and yours this Thanksgiving.