There’s a well-known adage that advises never to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table but I can’t say that this has ever been adhered to at a Stavridis family Thanksgiving. As you might imagine, that “faux pas” doesn’t fly in our family and frankly, there’s just too much going on in the world (see: the missing Argentine submarine, North Koreans defecting, and more trouble for the U.S. Navy in the Pacific) to pretend as though the news of the day can be shoveled aside like the canned cranberry “sauce” that sometimes makes its way to the table, parading as an appropriate turkey garnish.

(I discussed the video footage of the North Korean defector with NBC’s Kier Simmons on NBC Nightly News this week – clip begins at 6:28, below.)

Still, despite the pressing need for continued attention to, and discussion of, the world’s hot-button issues, it is equally important to take time to step back and reflect on the things for which we are truly thankful.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m unbelievably grateful for a loving and supportive family with whom I get to share this meal and this holiday. To have my daughter and grandchildren home with my wife, Laura, and me, is something I treasure deeply, as family has always helped me stay grounded, even when the world is at its most turbulent.

I’m thankful for a team of colleagues and friends at Fletcher, whom I count among some of the greatest I’ve ever worked with. Together, we work to provide a space for growth and learning for the change-makers of tomorrow, creating and sustaining a world-class institution for top notch students from the world over whom I’m lucky to know.

Finally, I’m thankful that we live in a country where we can have these open and frank discussions, whether over the dinner table, in front of polite company, in the boardroom or the classroom, in stadiums, in high-political office, on TV, and in print. It’s not something that is universally guaranteed and, though it can sometimes feel painful or tedious, it is essential to pushing our community, society, and nation forward so that we can tackle the difficult issues of our day.

So, go have those faux pas conversations over turkey and stuffing and (hopefully homemade!) cranberry sauce. And remember to have those conversations too, about what and whom you are thankful for. And maybe, just maybe, out of these conversations, we’ll manage to find new ways to address some of our world’s problems, for today and for future generations.

Happy Thanksgiving, bon appetite, and as always, thank you for reading.







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