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There are many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving

The day after tomorrow is one of this nation's most important holidays, and while for many Thanksgiving is merely a time to get together with family and friends and see who can eat the most, there are far deeper meanings and things to be thoughtful for
   Sure, for many it is almost mandatory that they over-eat, then sit back and bask in that glow of being overstuffed. Never mind that they'll regret it when they step on the scales Friday. As one friend puts it, "It's un-American not to over-eat."
   For others, it's time to really give thanks for the plenty this country has, and for the many freedoms only dreamed about in most of the world.
   There are many freedoms to be thankful for and some major ones are spelled out in the first 10 amendments to our national Constitution - the Bill of Rights. Which ones you concentrate on will depend on what matters most to you at this time. If you just got caught committing a major crime, the Sixth Amendment - the right to a speedy trial - is more important to you than, say, the Third Amendment, which gives you freedom from having soldiers quartered in your home.
   Since I'm an outdoor writer, both the first and second amendments are more important to me than they are to most others.
   Among other things, our First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and the press. As an example, I can write just about anything I want here in this column, without fearing a knock on the door. If I write a criticism of some government agency's actions, the storm troopers won't haul me off at 2:00 tomorrow morning.
   You can't do that many places in the world, and I've heard first-hand stories of citizens in other countries criticizing the government, being taken in for questioning - and never being seen again. Give thanks Thursday for our right of free speech and press.
   The Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms. In most of the world a private citizen either cannot own a firearm, or the restrictions are so extensive that it amounts to prohibition.
   As a hunter and target shooter, I can buy a rifle, shotgun or handgun, keep it in my home, and go hunting or target practicing whenever I want. In most other countries citizens cannot even possess firearms, especially handguns, and are highly restricted as to when and where they have access to them.
   Although there are strong voices (with names such as Kennedy, Clinton, Feinstein, Schumer and Kerry) trying to take away our Second Amendment rights, we have many others fighting to keep those rights. Give thanks for the National Rifle Association and the many politicians who support our Constitution.
   But most of all, for those of us who enjoy the out-of-doors, give thanks to our Creator for the mountains, valleys, canyons, basins, ridges, timber, shrubs, grass, water, and all the other aspects of our natural world that we can enjoy daily, right here close to home. On Thanksgiving, be thankful.