November 23, 2016
A Message of Gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day,
Each year, as the holiday season approaches, I find myself looking back and reflecting on everything we have to be grateful for. As I sat down to compose this holiday message, I found myself pondering about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Not just the turkey and pies, but the meaning behind the meal and the special time spent with family. I found myself thinking about the history of Thanksgiving and how this great tradition came about. As children, we were all taught the story of the colonists boarding the Mayflower and heading to America with the promise of new beginnings and prosperity. We learned that the pilgrims were greeted by Native American Indians upon their arrival and that the Indians graciously welcomed them to their land, sharing their knowledge and helping them survive through the harsh winter. We know that after that big fall harvest they would gather together and share a meal, counting their blessings in celebration of the past year's crops and the accomplishments that they had achieved together. This tradition was carried on for more than two centuries before President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday to be held each November. Thanksgiving Day became the feast of celebration and gratitude for the new world, new opportunities, new alliances, and new friends.
Today, some of the true history of Thanksgiving has fallen by the wayside, but even as some of the history fades, the importance of gratitude has remained at the forefront of what Thanksgiving Day represents. The truth remains that if the first colonists had not been graciously accepted and welcomed by Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe and later the Wampanoag American Indians, the colonist may not have survived. It was the acceptance of those that were different and the willingness to learn from each other that enabled that first colony to thrive.
This holiday, let's try to remain focused on the true meaning of the day, gratefulness. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to remind us of the many reasons there are to be grateful. As we gather with family and friends, remember that Thanksgiving is more than the food and festivities. It is a time to acknowledge all that we have, it is a time to give thanks and it is a time to extend compassion and care to those that are less fortunate. It is also a great time to look back at all the memories and special people who have touched our lives. We have been blessed with new co-workers, flying partners and crewmembers, new friends, a new contract and a bright future together. May we enter this holiday season filled with hope and enthusiasm, focused on a positive future paved with undeniable success of where we will go together. January 2017 will mark the beginning of the first full year that we are truly United. A new contract is in place, the MEC is merged and soon we will have newly elected Local Council Officers in the dual council locations. And, just like the colonists that blindly took a step of faith in hope of a new world and better opportunities, we have a great future to build before us as a United family. We have so much to be thankful for and I am excited and grateful for our future together. May we learn from each other as we shape the beginning of our own history. A new way for all of us, steeped in the cultures from three legacy airlines. This Thanksgiving, we can all bring our gifts to the table and together we can begin to mold our NEW traditions. The secret is in appreciation of what we all have to offer together. Let us remain thankful for our history as we graciously embrace our future as United family.
In this time of Thanksgiving celebration, my thoughts turn gratefully to you with warm appreciation. If you are flying today I want to express my gratitude to you for your dedication to our profession. Thank you for your sacrifice and service, so that others may spend time with their families. If you are able to spend time with loved ones, family or friends this Thanksgiving Day, have a wonderful time and very Happy Thanksgiving.
Ken Diaz, MEC President
Association of Flight Attendants, CWA, AFL-CIO