Ask ten people what they’re thankful for on Thanksgiving and you’ll get ten people that start by saying their family; as well it should be. Dig a little deeper and some will say their jobs or their friends, but there’s so much we take for granted that perhaps a little review of all the blessings we look past is in order.

Beyond family, first and foremost we need to be thankful that we live in a country where the rights of the individual are paramount. In America you have the right to speak your mind and to assemble with like-minded folks. We live in a country where the only limitation is our imagination and work ethic. If you’re beyond the age of 40, consider all that you’ve seen in your life. The technological changes we’ve seen in our lives could only happen in America. The greatest changes in our lifestyles have been the product of American ingenuity. The entire world benefits from the dreams and aspirations of Americans.

We overlook so much in our daily lives. Got a speeding ticket lately? Not a pleasant experience. Come home to find your house has been robbed and you’ll have a much healthier respect for the police. Every year many police officers lose their lives in the line of duty; in 2005 alone 156 police officers made the ultimate sacrifice. Been on the wrong side of the law and you might have a less favorable view of the police force, but consider how much they do for those of us trying to live a upstanding life. In most countries the police force is corrupt and laws are applied based on your status in life. So even if you’ve had an unpleasant experience with your local police, be thankful that they’re there to protect us.

No one likes traffic, but had our roads not evolved over the last half-century rush-hour would be rush-day. Using our cars would be impossible and we’d be riding bicycles to get around like 3rd-world countries. Americans waste an amazing amount of time dealing with traffic, but try to imagine what it would be like if roadways of today were unchanged from 1950? Yes, the roads still leave a lot to be desired, but be thankful cause as Mr. Obama says, it could be a lot worse.

Public schools in America have plummeted by world standards. Whereas we once led the world in public education, we’re far down the list today. Private schools in America, on the other hand, are doing quite well and those who have the opportunity to attend private schools are far advanced over their public school counterparts. So what’s to be thankful about here? In many areas of the world public schooling isn’t even an option and education is only available to the children of the upper class. While the Teacher’s unions have compromised the quality of public education, at least it’s universal. It’s far better to have a marginally educated society than one with none at all. In 1900 less than 60 percent of the population could read. If your parents were well off and could send you to private school, be thankful; if not, be thankful you at least had the opportunity to learn to read and write.

At the turn of the 20th century there was no such thing as a supermarket. If you didn’t live on a farm you purchased your meats from a butcher shop, your produce (and it was a very limited selection) were bought from a street vendor, a dairy would bring large carrying cans of milk to your neighborhood where you’d bring your own container out and the delivery man would ladle out your unpasteurized/unhomogenized whole milk. In some areas the dairy would offer one or two cheese products, but in most areas if you wanted cheese you made it yourself. If you were fortunate enough to have a General Store nearby you might be able to purchase a few canned products, maybe Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes and some hair tonic. Today we not only have supermarkets, but megamarkets and box stores. Only the wealthy could get a Turkey for Thanksgiving a hundred years ago, now they’re not only plentiful but comparatively much more affordable. Be thankful that only a few miles from your door you can enter a store that meets you entire family’s grocery needs.

Speaking of shopping, not so many years ago most of it was via mail-order. Not so different than online sales, but with one major difference: order something from Amazon and you’re likely to have it in less than a week. In 1940 if you ordered something from the Sears Roebuck catalog you were lucky if it arrived in a month. If your parents ordered you a pair of dungarees, which today we call jeans, they were ordered one size larger since you couldn’t try anything on and your mother took them in and hemmed the legs. Today we have department stores and malls and dressing rooms. You can go into your local Sears store, try on a pair of Levis and buy them on the spot, or go home and order a pair you know will fit online. The same goes for shoes, which at one time were either purchased used or if you had the resources you paid a cobbler to make them for you. Today we have shoe stores, shoe departments in the big stores and even online portals like Zappos to get just what you want.

While it took much longer to get things you purchased in 1900, you had a lot less time to waste. In 1900 the average lifespan was only 48 years. Today a newborn can expect to live to the ripe old age of 76 and many well beyond that. The cost of health care is a painful reality, but given the alternative of living less than a half-century price becomes relative. The advances in health care over the past 100 years has eclipsed the prior 1911 years. Doctors were far and few in between 100 years ago, today we have HMOs, private practice groups and hospitals with hundreds of doctors on staff. Today many people live to survive Cancer when not so many years ago it was a certain death sentence. Be thankful you live at a time where although expensive health care is readily available and the quality is the best in the world. Now if we just don’t screw that up over the next couple years with Obamacare we’ll continue to have something to be thankful for.

There are just so many things we in America take for granted you could literally come up with a list of thousands; however there is one thing that every person in this country should collectively be thankful for and that’s the brave men and women of our military; not just those serving today, but those who have courageously served throughout our history. Everything we take for granted in America would not be possible if not for their dedication and heroism.

Treasure your friends and family, but don’t forget the many, many things we have to be thankful for in this country.