COLUMN: There are many things to be thankful for in Norman – Norman Transcript | CarTailz

I remember hearing some stories from elementary school about how the Pilgrims survived a harsh winter and then celebrated their survival by joining forces with Native Americans in what was called the “First Thanksgiving” in 1621.

I was less aware of the Proclamation of George Washington in 1789—the first United States government proclamation to establish a Thanksgiving Day—to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26 of that year.

Moving on to October 1863, Abraham Lincoln encouraged Americans “in all parts of the United States, and also those at sea and those in foreign lands, to set apart the last Thursday of November as a day from and to observe thanksgiving and prayer.” Thanksgiving has been celebrated regularly in these United States since that time.

I know what I’m going to do on Thanksgiving Day: I’m going to spend the morning conducting the Gravy Train.

As you may have read in Mindy Wood’s Transcript article last Saturday, Food and Shelter and the Salvation Army are working together to offer Norman High a Thanksgiving dinner open to all.

Most of the food is prepared in the Food and Shelter kitchens in East Norman. My job, like last year, is to haul about 18 gallons of gravy from there to Norman High.

The sauce is prepared in large pots; last year it took three trips to complete this mission. It is my small contribution to this noble cause.

But when one thinks of this holiday and Lincoln’s words, there is so much to be thankful for – starting with the good work done in Norman by the aforementioned Food and Shelter and Salvation Army.

These agencies work year-round to help those in need, and they are not alone. They are part of a larger Continuum of Care, a group of non-profit and religious organizations dedicated to helping others.

The United Way deserves credit for everything they do. They support many groups in town – Full Circle Adult Day Care, the Center for Children Families Inc. and Bridges come to mind – although there are many others.

I was particularly impressed by her support of counseling centers during COVID-19, which aim to help residents of all stripes through difficult times.

And then I thought about unsung heroes working for the city. Easy enough to thank the police and fire brigade for being there 24/7, but what about the folks who are called out in the heat of summer and the cold of winter to make emergency water main repairs ?

What about the building inspectors and park attendants and garbage collectors and street sweepers who go about their jobs day after day without notice?

Do we even know the people who support the city’s IT infrastructure? (They came to my rescue more than once when I was on city council and was having technical issues with my iPad.)

Fleet maintenance personnel do a heroic job to keep an aging fleet of vehicles – and specialized equipment – ​​in working order.

I have been honored to attend several Norman schools including Norman High, Norman North and Dimensions Academy. I’m impressed by what I saw, but even more impressed by the students I spoke to.

When I was in high school, things seemed boring and abstract to me, with teachers staying aloof from student affairs. I didn’t see that with Norman. The teachers are approachable and the students reciprocate, resulting in a very positive learning experience.

Circumstances have led me to resort to Norman Regional’s EMSSTAT service and Emergency Department. These dedicated officers literally saved a family member’s life.

I haven’t touched on the commercial sector in Norman, but I see good things there too. I’ve been rescued more than once by auto repair shops, I’ve been treated courteously at locations across the city.

I have seen the Chamber of Commerce doing a great job supporting not only businesses in Norman but also charities in our fair village.

We have much to be thankful for—on Thanksgiving and throughout the year. We are fortunate to live in Norman and I feel blessed in many ways.

After my “gravy train” leaves earlier in the day, I’ll be taking my kids and grandkids to a Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday night.

And I want First Lt. To Joan Scanlon, USAF Nurse Corps, retired, my deepest gratitude for the love and support she has shown me over 57 years. Happy Thanksgiving.

Bill Scanlon is a former Ward 6 councilor who volunteers for the Normandy Police and Fire Brigade and serves on several township committees. Before joining Norman, Scanlon served 26 years in the US Air Force – where he most recently served as director of mission analysis under the Deputy Chief of Staff, Air Force, Studies and Analysis at the Pentagon – and worked for Northrop Grumman in Washington, DC

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