No, Jeff, that title is not referring to you, so settle down. It is referring to the day after tomorrow when most of America will sit down to a big family dinner, featuring, in most cases, one of those big birds Benjamin Franklin wanted as the National Bird instead of the Eagle. Families come together to share a great meal and some real quality time together. I guess Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday for a number of reasons, not the least of which is realizing the real meaning of that day.
While I agree it is almost shameful to have to designate a day to give thanks, when, in fact, we should be giving thanks each and every day for the wonderful country in which we living and for all the blessing heaped upon us, many without us even realizing or even recognizing at the time. Let me just run through a few things I'm thankful for and then you all can add your own.
I am certainly thankful for the awesome family in which I grew up and now for the family that Ann and I have built together. Our son and daughter mean the world to me and I won't even go into the grand kids. How much more blessed could a man be?
I am thankful for this site that allows us all to come together and to share stories of the past and stories of the heroes and heroines who gave so much to go from the dusty cornfields and cow pastures to the level of the sport in today's world. Although there is much I don't like about today's NASCAR, I am thankful for the sport, especially the history of the sport.
I am thankful for that group of guys who gathered at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach in 1948 to start this thing called NASCAR. What stock car racing had been before the big war was several loosely organized, and some unorganized groups sanctioning races wherever they could gather enough cars. Love him or hate him, be thankful for Big Bill France. Without that man, the driving force to build the sport into something magnificent would have been missing. We need to be thankful to Bill, Jr., as well as his foresight brought the sport into the mainstream of American sports.
I am thankful that my grandfather and my Uncle Bobby took me to a dirt track race in 1952 which started a lifetime adventure for me that has filled my mind with stories of unbelievable adventure. I'm encouraged by some, from time-to-time to write a book about my 65 years around the tracks, but you all can be thankful that I don't write that book because some of the things that happened to me would not be believable and my credibility would suffer. Some of those adventures seem Disney-made as I look back on them. At least it will be something to talk about at the retirement home when I move in. Those who don't want to listen can turn off their hearing aids.
I am deeply and truly thankful for all my friends. I am especially thankful for the friends I have made through racing and through my adventures as The Legend. Those of you listening tonight know how much I value the friendships we have built over these 8 years. Some of you have become so close you are like my brothers and sisters and that deserves a HUGE thank you to each one of you as well as my thank you to God for putting you all in my life.
I am thankful that I live in a country where, with all its flaws and divisiveness, we still live better than two-thirds of the world. I am thankful that the red, white and blue flag that flies is, for the most part, respected by our citizens and by our allies, and feared by our enemies. That flag, flown in so many parts of the world during World War II, can claim the honor of freeing the world from the horrors of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Throughout the history of this great land, that flag, first with thirteen stars, now grown to 50, has stood from freedom.
The list of things for which I'm thankful could go on for pages but I hope what I've already said will inspire each of you listening to think about the things we all sometimes take for granted for which we should truly bow out heads and thank our Good Lord for providing .
I wish each and every one of you a very Happy, Safe, and Blessed Thanksgiving. Be thankful old Ben Franklin didn't get his way with the National Bird, or there would be no turkey on the table Thursday. God bless us everyone!