Christmas has always been a favorite time for me. I grew up in a family and a church that taught the true reason for the season. I have many memories of joining with family members and loved ones, taking time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and to celebrate the love we all share. In my home church in Biscoe, we would gather for Christmas Eve services and hear the story of the Nativity. Being with my family and hearing the story of Christ’s birth helped instill in me the values I hold dear to this very day. Christmas should be about family and friends, and understanding the joy that comes from learning to care for and appreciate others. It is important that we do all we can to embrace the spirit of the holidays. I believe it helps to remember that during even the most challenging of times, when we remain rich in our faith in humankind and love, we honor the reason for this season.
Several years ago, I was asked to recall my favorite Christmas memory. I chose Christmas Eve of 1968, an evening I’m sure many who are old enough will remember. Televisions across the nation were tuned in to watch Apollo 8, with three fearless Americans on board who were to become the first humans to leave Earth’s orbit and circle the moon. As my family and I huddled close to the television, I remember how amazing it was to see the astonished look on the faces of my mother and father. They had already seen so much in their lives, having lived through WWII, and their reaction helped me understand the magnitude of this accomplishment. My brother and I may not have seen much just yet in our lives, but we understood what we were witnessing that night. We watched the grainy black and white image closely, and heard the radio transmissions from the crew. As they ventured around the farthest side of the moon, the crew joined together and read from the book of Genesis the story of the creation of Heaven and Earth, while we all watched along with the rest of the world with wonder and hope.
I’ve pointed out before that our nation has a history of coming together when we need it the most. To think back on that year of 1968 as a whole, and to know that this one event on the eve of Christmas brought almost each and every family together to witness a feat so great and on display to the entire world, is a true testament to just how powerful the American Dream can be. The hard work and ingenuity of America took what would otherwise seem to be a completely impossible idea, and made it happen. Whether its space exploration, or getting our country back to work, I remain convinced that we can accomplish anything by coming together. My memory of that Christmas night remains dear to me.
This holiday season, as we reflect on our lives and the past year, let us remember a time when the power of the American people working together achieved incredible things, and that we still can. You and I know that much is accomplished when people are willing to work together, and I remain hopeful that the folks in Washington will find a way to embrace that principle when Congress’ work continues after the holidays. I assure you that my optimism and hope for civility remains, and I know that together, as a nation, we must work each and every day to make that a reality in order to ensure the best for the generations of those who come after us.
As you know, I believe one important place where we can get folks to work together is in revitalizing our manufacturing base and promoting products Made in America. I am a firm believer in the quality of products made here, and I believe we must remain ahead of the curve and on the forefront of manufacturing. Over the last century, our nation has led the way in technical innovation, and I believe we can continue to lead the way. We can do it here, and we can do it better. I believe this is the most important thing that we can achieve, and it is the key to setting our economy back on the right course.
This will be my final weekly message to you, and I want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for allowing me to serve the last four years as your representative. These weekly messages will soon be replaced with words from our incoming Congressman, Richard Hudson, and I’m proud to say that we have spent the last two months working to ensure that this transition is seamless so our constituents will continue to get the very best care and service that they have come to expect from this office. I’ve been absolute honored and blessed to have spent the last four years of my life working on behalf of the best people on earth, those who call the 8th District of North Carolina home. I look forward to continuing to find ways to work to make sure that, when all is said and done, together we can leave this Earth and this nation a better place than it was when our parents and grandparents left it to us. To me, that is the most sincere and genuine way that we can preserve the God-given values and beliefs that have made our nation great — and will only make us better.
No matter what may come, I believe that we must never forget that there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America. Through this, we will forever know that better days are ahead for our great nation and our children and grandchildren. God bless you all, and a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.