Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States, the start of a long four-day weekend of family, friends, food, and frenetic holiday shopping. Art Blog By Bob will return to its normal programming on Monday, November 26th, unless the turducken gets burned or something like that.

Many thanks to my beautiful wife Annie and amazing son Alex for the love and support they give to me in everything I do, including writing this blog. Kudos, too, to my friends who provide suggestions and comments among the many laughs. To the readers of Art Blog By Bob, thank you very much for allowing me to take up part of your day with something I love so much doing. (As always, I’d love to hear from you in comments or by e-mail to To the wonderful people at the museums and publishers, many thanks, again, for providing the books, videos, and other materials that help keep this blog going. Special thanks go out to the folks at the PMA, my “home” museum, for inviting me to press previews and treating me with the same generosity and courtesy as they do all the “real” media.

Norman Rockwell’s painting above will always be my favorite image of Thanksgiving Americana. Most people forget that Rockwell painted that in 1943 as part of a series of Saturday Evening Post covers dealing with the Four Freedoms outlined by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941. Freedom From Want, represented by the lavish Thanksgiving dinner, belongs with freedom of speech, of worship, and from fear. All Americans should give thanks that these freedoms still exist in our country, and remember that they can never be taken for granted.

I recently passed by the lawn area next to the Visitors’ Center and in front of the National Constitution Center in the Historic Section of Olde City Philadelphia. A group of veterans were placing grave markers in neat rows for every serviceman and woman lost in the war in Iraq. (A photo of the work in progress appears above and a close-up of an individual marker appears below.) One of the veterans explained to a group of schoolchildren and anyone else who would listen how the rows of markers would lead all the way up to the National Constitution Center, a full city block away, before they were finished. He railed on about how these men and woman died bravely but unjustly in a conflict that should never have happened.

When you enjoy your freedom from want before your turkey (or turducken, etc.) tomorrow, think of those who suffer from want and those who will never want again in this life. When you enjoy your freedom of worship (or not to worship), think of those who suffer for their faith or because of the “faith” of others. Finally, enjoy your freedom of speech and speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves. By doing all that, you will have already enjoyed your freedom from fear, especially those fears exploited for the gain of the few and the losses of the many for much, much too long.

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