Over the past year, The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce has grown beyond our original plans, as well as developed a role outside of its original intended scope.  Our membership has grown to include representation from the Bronx, NY to Issaquah, WA (I know, I hadn’t heard of it either) to nearly every metropolitan area within the U.S. and, of course, Puerto Rico.  However, much to our surprise, our membership also now includes countries as far away as Korea and Australia, and original hometowns from a dozen Latin American and Spanish-Speaking countries.

Despite our differences, perhaps the binding quality that we all share is that we are aware of the uniquely American belief that with a simple idea and a strong work ethic, we all have the opportunity for success in life.  This drive to innovate, to develop an idea, to bring it to fruition, and to take a leap of faith in order to have the opportunity to even touch the heels of success is what drove all of our ancestors, whether our parents or our parents’ parents’ parents, to come to this land of opportunity.

The “land of opportunity” has come to its namesake because its people, a true melting pot of the world’s cultures, is almost entirely composed of entrepreneurially-minded innovators, who will generally do what it takes to make a better life for their families and future generations.  In no other country on Earth will one find such a prevalent commitment to development, innovation, entrepreneurship, and, upon even the slightest of successes, charity.  Nowhere else are we so benevolent as to make our poor rich compared to the rest of the world and nowhere else is a society so willing to contribute to the welfare of those far less fortunate outside of its borders.

Today marks the one day in the year where an entire nation gives Thanks to its creator – and purveyor of ultimate freedom – for the many blessings it has received as well as the many blessings it is able to bestow upon others.  Despite all of our faults and disagreements, WE have contributed to the existence of an exceptional society, a giving people, and a blessed and truly unique culture.  We celebrate because the benefits from our existence have far outweighed the unwelcomed atrocities, creating the livelihood that no other people in history have been able to achieve.

Never forget where we have come from, nor the power of our own innovative potential to take us wherever we want to go.  Today, give thanks that you have both a history . . . and a future . . . in America, the land of the free.

–Justin Velez-Hagan, National Executive Director