Our View: As we give thanks


As we gather this week with family and friends for our national day of Thanksgiving, we Alexandrians have much for which to be grateful. Despite Americas on-going involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 2010 brought no new attacks on our own soil. We think with gratitude of those whose service abroad protects our liberty at home.     
Nationally, economists earlier this year declared the recession that began in 2008 over, though national unemployment rates seem stuck at almost 10 percent without jobs. In Alexandria, we are thankful for a local economy that has been less affected than most places by the larger downturn, as Alexandrias unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is half the national average. Even better news for city residents is data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating that through the first quarter of 2010, the average rate of wage growth in Alexandria was second highest of Virginias large counties and cities; our growth rate was 2.3 percent to an average weekly wage of $1,223, compared with the national average wage of $889. Alexandrias average weekly wage ranks 18th nationwide.
In Virginia, motorists traveling over this long holiday weekend might pause and give thanks for the re-opening earlier this year of 17 rest stops that were closed in 2009 for budgetary reasons. The rest stops can be a literal life-saver for drivers of trucks making long hauls, as well as motorists in need of a quick pit stop. 
Alexandrians have a myriad of local events to be grateful for this year. Despite record-setting snows in the winter and devastating storms in early August, no one in the city was killed in these extreme weather events. Both the snow storms and mini-tornado caused wide-spread loss of precious trees citywide, yet residents quickly responded with replanting efforts.
In fact, the common thread running through most of what happened locally in 2010 was the inspiring way in which we pulled together, especially during difficult times. In addition to helping each other deal with storm damage, people from many sectors of the city rose to oppose and eventually help halt a misguided plan to destroy a third of the Winkler Botanical preserve. Environmentalists, families with school children and nearby residents responded with a fury when the VDOT plan was announced.
More recently, residents responded with an outpouring of support when fire destroyed the beautiful and historic Immanuel Chapel on the grounds of the Virginia Theological Seminary. 
We should all be thankful to live in a community that participates in an entire weekend of organized volunteerism, as we did during Spring for Alexandria in late April.  Organized by ACT for Alexandria along with Volunteer Alexandria and city government, Spring for Alexandria is now an annual event that brings together city residents young and old to lend a helping hand. Were a place where new, good charitable ideas spring up with regularity. This year brought us Alexandria in Bloom, a non-profit devoted to the beautification of city streets.
Here at the Times, we are grateful for our talented and dedicated staff. We have fun each week working together to make a difference in Alexandria. Most of all, were thankful to be your hometown newspaper.