A Thankful Heart

November 23, 2011 | By Lauren Hart

Workaholic Washington does stop. I’ve witnessed it today.

This morning I commuted to work in a record-breaking 12 minutes, when it usually takes 30-45. Commuters left the Beltway for the holiday.

My well-attended Wednesday morning meeting in the district was sparse, and cut short. 

It’s quiet in the office this afternoon. Many of my fellow Leadership Institute co-workers have ditched me for home (I don’t blame them).

But before I leave the office to start cooking for tomorrow’s feast with my boyfriend’s family, I pause to reflect.

What a privileged joy this past year has been working at the Leadership Institute.

I have met some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and passionate people while here.

These folks I have worked alongside many an hour. They have been fellow LI employees, volunteer faculty for our trainings, and students who have given up weekends and nights to learn political technology. The donors who support our mission to train conservative activists, students, and leaders give a priceless gift, and do so voluntarily, because it’s their delight.

In my year here, I have seen many walk into our building with nothing more than a great passion to make a difference within the public policy process. They’ve left armed with the tools to make that dream a reality.

Later, I find out they won their State Senate campaign. They started a conservative organization. They organized their precinct, and voted in a conservative school board member. They debated liberals on CNN and MSNBC like they’ve owned the airwaves forever.

This place is truly remarkable. There’s no place quite like it.

We are a family here. Not just the staff, but the interns each semester who are valued team members in our departments and the 300-plus volunteer faculty who give their expertise and precious time to share their insider knowledge with our students. And the LI graduates, wow, they have this special nostalgia of their time here.

I have met many people who, after hearing where I work, say that they’ve attended trainings here, or support the Institute, or taught for us in the past, or interned here.  They owe their career to LI, they say.  LI launched their career.  LI helped them get elected. LI staffed their organization with the right staff.  LI helped them start a conservative group on their university campus. And so on. I hear it regularly.

Wow, what a place! What a family!

While my immediate family in Austin, Texas is 1,504 miles away (and I miss them dearly), I am grateful to come each morning to work hard for a worthy purpose.

But it’s much greater than just LI. I am thankful for the liberty-loving, conservative coalitions, and their commitment to doing right by this country. It is an honor to serve alongside you.

America is the world’s last best hope. Yes, there are challenges, but we can all be thankful for being American, for we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

On June 28, 1787 when the Constitutional Convention seemed likely to fail, Benjamin Franklin stood, addressing General George Washington, assembly chairman, and others present, and said:

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for God, my Savior, this great Country, the Conservative Movement, the Leadership Institute community, and my amazing family.

Fellow patriots—enjoy these quiet, slow moments. Cherish the love in your homes. Be unreservedly grateful for each and every blessing.

We have a lot to be thankful for.