Americans have much to be thankful for

At the time I submitted this commentary, Election Day was almost a week away.

Most folks reading my column today have let out a sigh of relief and are thankful that this election cycle is over. I am also thankful, but for other reasons.

We celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States Marine Corps on Nov. 10. For my Marine friends, I’ll see your “Oo-Rah” and raise you an Army “Hooah!” Semper Fidelis!

On Nov. 11, we celebrate Veterans Day, which is also the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Happy Veterans Day to my brothers and sisters in arms who honorably served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. We sometimes call each other names: “dogface,” “jarhead,” “swabbie,” “zoomie” or “puddle pirate,” but we expect reciprocal abuse during this playful banter of interservice rivalry. (Warning: If you haven’t served, don’t utter these terms or you’ll witness interservice rivalry rapidly morph into a veteran-versus-nonveteran skirmish.)

You may thank a veteran for his or her service, but all of us have much to be grateful for during this season of Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for capitalism, because it fuels a prosperous economy that has brought us affordable luxuries, clean water and indoor plumbing.

I recently purchased a laser printer to replace my 14-year-old laser printer that seemed to be slowing down and making weird noises (total justification for buying a new one). The new printer is faster and has wireless connectivity. The old printer cost $80, which is about $110 in today’s dollars. My new one cost $95 with free shipping and handling.

I bought my first laser printer, a Packard Bell model weighing more than a small car, at the Munich, Germany, Post Exchange in 1991. It cost $995 — over $1,840 in today’s dollars. (I “needed” this new technology, of course, to help me write my résumé pending my Army retirement.)

Each printer was faster and better than the previous one and cost less. Why? Because capitalism provides the process and method to produce better goods at cheaper prices. If you purchased a large-screen TV five years ago and are in the market for a bigger one, you’ll notice the quality is much better and the price is much lower. Capitalism works regardless of the country of product origin.

Water and electricity are affordable and available because a capitalist system provides a standard of living that begets a utility to offer such services.

We often take many of these luxuries for granted. We are awakened by a sudden power outage, sometimes caused by an impaired driver striking a power box at 2 a.m., and become anxious if power isn’t restored within the hour. When you consider that more than 1 billion people in the world have little or no electricity, you appreciate what you have, and a three-hour outage doesn’t feel unreasonable.

During the aforementioned power outage, many of us take a trip to the bathroom. This, too, is a luxury when you consider that one-third of the world’s population (about 2.3 billion people) do not have a basic sanitary device such as a toilet. Almost a billion people have no access to clean water.

Being thankful for the small things motivates us to conquer bigger issues.

We thank the veterans for keeping our country free, often at great personal expense. Their sacrifice keeps the machine of our economy working. In turn, our lives improve, and we can help those who haven’t yet reaped the full benefits of capitalism.

This election cycle has raised incivility to an unheard of fever pitch. However, I pray that it will subside during the next election cycle. Most of us are kindhearted and forgiving, and I am thankful for that.

I am also thankful that our country reaches out to less fortunate countries and provides assistance with their water and sanitation needs. Overall, our country provides more assistance and accepts more immigrants that all of the other countries combined.

Our country has many chinks in its shiny armor wrought by the high and low points of our republic’s history: two wars with England, a Civil War, slavery, two World Wars, the Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars (and other conflicts in between), presidential assassinations, civil rights abuses and civil rights progress. When other countries would have easily capitulated, we did not. We are the best country in the world. Otherwise, why are people dying to get in?

I don’t wait for Thanksgiving to be grateful for being born an American; I thank God every day and know that, as long as we remain a God-fearing nation of laws, we will continue to prosper.

Dan Jennings is a retired Boulder City police sergeant, retired Army captain and former U.S. Army CID Special Agent. He received the Medal of Valor and Purple Heart for his actions as a deputy sheriff during an armed robbery in 1996. He can be reached at

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