Like many Arkansas households, my home is filled with the sights, sounds and smells of the Christmas season. My wife Cathy enjoys decorating our home and baking cookies, and I always look forward to spending more time with my family and friends. We have many family traditions and it is especially heartwarming to see my daughters now sharing these moments with my granddaughters. In addition to the activities close to home, our hearts turn to others during this season of giving.
The generosity of Arkansans, and their willingness to help people in need during the holiday season, is always on display. The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is a well-recognized tradition that encourages contributing money to those in need. Not only do Arkansans open their wallets, they also volunteer to ring the familiar sound of the bells that we hear where we see those red kettles.
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program relies on the support of Arkansans to help families who struggle to make ends meet provide Christmas gifts for their children. You’ve likely seen Christmas trees at the mall filled with the angels that list the needs and wishes of local children. Each year Arkansans open their hearts to make the season brighter for children in need. The kindness of Arkansans helps thousands of children and families in our state experience the joys of giving and brings hope to those who need it most.
In this season of giving we thank those who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our nation and gave their life to our country. Earlier this month, Arkansans joined people all across the country to pay tribute to our fallen service members and veterans by placing a Christmas wreath on the graves at state and national veteran cemeteries.
It is a humbling moment when you lay a wreath at the National Cemetery and reflect on the service of someone close to your heart. It is even more humbling to remember how many Americans have chosen to serve our nation and how many of them have paid with their lives. I hope you will take a moment to remember the sacrifices of those who have sacrificed for our freedom.
We remember those men and women in uniform who won’t be able to celebrate Christmas with their families. We are extremely blessed and grateful for the members of our Armed Forces for their service, sacrifice and dedication. This is a difficult time of year to be away from loved ones. Let us offer prayers of thanks to them and their families for their commitment allowing us to celebrate Christmas in a free country.
I am proud of the generosity of Arkansans and their willingness to help others not only during this season of giving, but all year long.
As my family puts the final touches on preparations to celebrate the holiday, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for your trust and opportunity to serve you.