You'd think that Chelsea Manning, sentenced to 35 years in prison in July for leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, doesn't have much to be thankful for this year. You'd be wrong.
Manning was one of 16 people Time asked to submit an essay about what they are grateful for this year (others included Michelle Obama, Rick Warren, Kid President and Dr. Oz). In a rare public comment, she wrote that she was typically "hesitant to celebrate Thanksgiving Day" because of its origins with the Puritans and how they treated the Native Americans who initially helped them settle in America (for a more romantic depiction of the first Thanksgiving, look no further than John Boehner's essay).
This year, she wrote:
I'm thankful for people who, even surrounded by millions of Americans eating turkey during regularly scheduled commercial breaks in the Green Bay and Detroit football game; who, despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the "helpful natives" selflessly assisted the "poor helpless Pilgrims" and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.
I’m also grateful for having social and human justice pioneers who lead through action, and by example, as opposed to directing or commanding other people to take action. Often, the achievements of such people transcend political, cultural, and generational boundaries. Unfortunately, such remarkable people often risk their reputations, their livelihood, and, all too often, even their lives.
Manning ended on an optimistic note, hopeful for a day when we can all live together and "look outward, into the space beyond this planet and the future of all humanity."
Read the entire essay here.