Thanksgiving Day is coming up soon. In the spirit of The Wall Street Journal[1], I am re-posting my traditional Thanksgiving message.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, a day that means more to me now that I know some of my family’s ancestors endured the horrible Starving Time at Jamestown and persevered in their new home. How many new immigrants would be willing to do what the Bishops and Toneys did in the early 1600s just to be here and start a new life? How many Americans of today would? Probably not many.

I am not thankful for football teams, or Starbucks, or money, or stuff, or anything else that most people superficially say they are “thankful” for. I like these things and appreciate them, but I wouldn’t move to another country for them or take a bullet for them or sacrifice my health and safety or my family for them.

I am thankful for my ancestors and the sacrifices they made for me to be here in this place and this time. I’m especially thankful for the presence and love of family, as many folks do not have a loving family or are the only members of their family left alive. I regret that I don’t show reciprocal love in the same measure as I should. I am thankful that my mother, even in the dying agonies of Alzheimer’s, cared about me and my welfare, even when she didn’t remember exactly who I was. I am thankful to have had a loving and caring father who helped me to do big things when he was alive and then kept on helping me after he passed away through his generous provision for me in his estate. I am thankful to have a loving and caring stepfather who has helped me in ways I cannot measure and who has taught me how to be a man in so many ways. I am thankful that my brother still remembers fondly our time growing up together, even though he was a mean and hateful boy who took advantage of the restrictions placed on me so I could not hit back. I am thankful we didn’t kill each other when we pulled the china cabinet down on top of us and broke all but one dish of my grandmother’s china. I am thankful that my parents didn’t kill either or both of us after we survived.

I am thankful for great friends and colleagues in Civil Air Patrol who are too numerous to mention, but I miss sharing cigars and stories and meals and cold DC days and Hawaiian sun with all of you. I am thankful for Del Nary and George Jones and Sonny Shroyer and Dick Sturtevant and my stepfather and John Danielek and Bob Melton and Bill Zvanut and Chick Massie and Ernest Craig and for every other man who mentored me during my Scouting career. I am thankful for Roe Callaway and Jay Hughes and Chuck Savage and Danny Philpot and Gerry Davis and every other pastor that encouraged me on my faith journey. Whether they knew it or not, and whether I knew it or not, they were all blessings.

I am thankful for my lovely bride, who saw a better man hiding inside the overweight, sick, angry man I had become and helped save my life emotionally and spiritually. I am thankful for my good friend and client Bob Cowles, who saved my life physically and redirected me into a better state of health and living. God sends angels in different guises, and I know He sent me a Southern doctor and a Chongqing beauty.

I am especially thankful that I am alive, thankful to live another fallible, human, falling-short-of-the-mark-even-though-I-try-really-hard day. And I am thankful for those of you that share the orbits of your lives with me – we should all do it more often, and it’s my fault that we don’t.

 I now return you to the secular, over-indulgent, holiday most people look forward to at this time of year. Thank you.

Barry S. Herrin, JD, FAHIMA, FACHE, is the founder of Herrin Health Law, P.C., in Atlanta, Ga. Herrin offers more than 30 years of experience practicing law in the areas of healthcare and hospital law and policy, privacy law and health information management, among other healthcare-specific practice areas. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and a Fellow of the American Health Information Management Association. He also holds a Certificate in Cyber Security from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Reach him at 404-459-2526 or   

[1]  The Journal has published this editorial each year at Thanksgiving since 1961.