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This Thanksgiving, as we get together with family and friends, Jean and I would once again like to send our warmest wishes to all South Dakotans. During this festive time of the year, let’s not forget that the first Thanksgiving was a time to thank the good Lord for all of our blessings. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to be able to work on your behalf in the United States Senate. Even when the debates on Capitol Hill get contentious, working for the people of South Dakota is a privilege that I’ll never take for granted.


I’m also thankful for the love and support of my family as I do this job. I truly would not be able to do it without them. We’re looking forward to spending Thanksgiving together at our house in Fort Pierre with many of our immediate and extended family members, including a few of our eight grandkids—we have to share them with their other grandparents sometimes! With such busy schedules these days, quality time with our family is the biggest blessing Jean and I could ask for. 


Earlier this month, we celebrated Veterans Day. It is because of the men and women who serve, and their families who support them, that all of us are able to freely celebrate the holiday season with those we love. I’m incredibly thankful to our military community and our veterans for all they do and have done to protect our freedoms, and I pray for those who will be spending the holidays apart from their families. We can never repay them for their service and sacrifice, but as a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ll continue working on legislation to improve the quality of life for South Dakota’s veterans and members of the armed forces, along with their family members.


Especially during the holiday season, I encourage South Dakotans to find ways to give back to their communities. There are food pantries and churches in nearly every town collecting donations, so that all of our neighbors are able to put a good meal on their Thanksgiving table. Monetary donations and food donations are both helpful, and as winter in South Dakota sets in, coats and other cold-weather clothing items are needed for kids, teens and adults. A number of volunteer organizations, charities, churches and even many local businesses hold coat drives every year, starting around this time. 


As we gather with our loved ones to give thanks and count our blessings, let’s also say a prayer for those who are having a hard time this year and for those who are unable to spend the holiday with their families. Jean and I wish all South Dakotans a very happy Thanksgiving and holiday season.