by Tom Mitsoff
There is nary a year in the 225-year history of the United States of
America which hasn't been tinged by tragedy of some sort.
Year in and year out, some region of our vast country is inevitably
plagued by flood, drought, earthquake, economic slowdown or other
hardship. But typically these events are confined to a relatively small
area, and the vast majority of us remember them with a fleeting thought
during the holidays or perhaps a prayer. But that really is about it.
This year is different. Those in the Baby Boomer generation, which
represent a very high percentage of our readers, would be hard-pressed
to recall a more trying, frightening year than 2001 has been.
As of Saturday evening, the official count of persons killed, presumed
dead or missing as the result of the events of Sept. 11 in New York,
Washington and Pennsylvania was 3,251, according to the Associated
Press. On the "Day of Infamy," 2,403 Americans died during the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, which until this year was the most devastating
attack, in terms of loss of life, on U.S. soil by a foreign enemy.
Thousands of U.S. families face a holiday season with an empty seat at
the table and an empty place in their hearts. And of course, we will
The Sept. 11 attacks ravaged not only life and landmarks, but a U.S.
economy which had already been in recession since March, according to
the U.S. Department of Labor. Since October 2000, when employment levels
were at their most recent high, 2.6 million people in our country have
lost their jobs, or approximately 185,000 per month. As of December 7,
the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 5.7 percent, or about one out of
every 20 people who would like to be working. Chances are you know
someone who has lost his or her job, particularly if you have ties to
the airline industry, in which 45,000 lost their jobs in November alone.
This year's average monthly unemployment rate will jump nearly an entire
point over the average for 2000, and we haven't seen that kind of quick
negative turn in employment fortunes in at least a decade.
Are you still gainfully employed? If so, know that most industries in
our economy are suffering major downturns in revenue, which of course,
pays the salaries of workers. Count yourself blessed that either you are
in an industry that is relatively unaffected by the current recession,
or that your employer has had the courage and heart to stick with you
during tough times, because it's likely that his or her bottom line is
taking some unexpected hits.
So this year, as we gather to spend the Christmas-New Year period with
our loved ones, there may never have been a more appropriate moment in
the lives of the Baby Boomer generation to stop and count our blessings.
Do you have your spouse, your children and members of your extended
family still with you? Give them a big hug, a big kiss and tell them you
love them. And then say a silent prayer for the thousands of families
who had their loved ones taken from them so suddenly, without a chance
to say goodbye. Many of them will never have closure.
It's easy to get overwhelmed when our public and private worlds are in
turmoil, but don't forget during this season of peace and joy to be
thankful for what you do have.
Tom Mitsoff is a daily newspaper editor and syndicated
editorial columnist. His web address is