I recently attended a Bar Mitzvah in which the guests were asked by the Rabbi to stand up and give life advice to the boy about to become a man. I did not stand. But if I had, this is what I would have said.
You are a lucky man. You are healthy. You have parents who love and care for you. You are surrounded today by a whole community of people who want nothing but the best for you. You have the freedom to exercise your own religion without fear of persecution. You have the freedom to speak your mind without concern that you will be deported or imprisoned. You can dream about the future without worrying about how you will survive today.
And all of that was given to you. You had to do nothing to earn these gifts. You were lucky, as was I, to have been born into this country.
With these gifts come the obligation to pass them along. You don’t own them. You are only borrowing them while you are here. It is your job to maintain those gifts, to treat them with care, so that your sons and daughters, and mine, can experience them as well.
You are Jewish. I am Catholic. We are both Americans. Forever remember the stroke of luck offered to you by being born an American. Be both a voter and an informed voter, for our laws are created by the persons we elect. Honor and respect our laws and the procedures that enforce them, for these are the principles that keep us safe. When offered the chance to serve on a jury, seize the opportunity, for there is no greater chance to directly participate in our democracy.
At this time of celebrating our unique holiday of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be an American. As a lawyer, I have been further blessed with the opportunity to know and help shape the principles of our great nation. I have been given much more than I could ever pay back simply by the stroke of luck it was to be born as an American citizen.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015.