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Thanksgiving is always a good time to reflect on the year and think about what we're grateful for. Missouri has faced more challenges than usual this year. We have seen historic flooding, severe storms and tornadoes that have all had devastating effects on our communities. In the wake of these difficult circumstances, I'm so grateful for the people who have come together in the 3rd District.

In light of the new movie, Mr. Rogers had a great quote about times like these — when he saw scary things in the news as a child, his mother would tell him "look for the helpers, you will always find people who are helping." This is exactly what we saw here in Missouri over this past year. Yes, we have weathered our fair share of storms — both figuratively and literally — but it has been especially heartwarming to witness the "helpers" of all sorts who have come out to offer assistance and rebuild.

Despite the differences that exist and the vitriol spewed by the news each night, we are not defined by these things. While it is true a certain degree of political divide exists, when push comes to shove, we put all these things aside and see the good in people. When our neighbors fall on hard times or disaster strikes, everyone comes together to help one another. It's been moving to witness this firsthand over the past year throughout our district and throughout our state. When flooding and tornadoes devastated parts of our state, we saw incredible compassion and commitment to others from our first responders, disaster volunteers, our military and fellow Missourians who wanted to lend a helping hand. We had a challenging year, but I'm so thankful to live in an area where the goodness in people conquers all.

We have many other blessings in our lives for which we give thanks. As always, I'm grateful for my family — my wife, our three children and their spouses, and our six precious grandchildren — who continues to be an amazing source of love and support. This year, we're grateful for our St. Louis Blues who brought the Stanley Cup home to Missouri. And, I continue to be honored and grateful to be your Congressman and represent an area my family has called home for generations.

While most of us are enjoying time with family and likely eating a little too much, please keep in mind those for whom we are the most thankful: the men and women stationed around the world sacrificing everything to defend our nation. Many service members and their families are half a world apart so we can enjoy the holidays with the ones we love. As we worry about overcooking the turkey or the children making it to dinner on time, they live everyday with the fear that their mother, father, son or daughter may never make it home for dinner again. It's appropriate that Veterans Day and Thanksgiving both take place in November. We are eternally grateful for our veterans and service members as they ensure the safety of every other blessing we have in our lives.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., shares his perspective each week on national issues, including ones that affect Missouri. He represents the state's 3rd District, which includes Jefferson City. His local office can be reached at 635-7232.

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