Marie Roncone was the first in her family to go to college.  She and her family had immigrated to the USA from Italy.  She was brought up to be thankful for the good things that were a part of her life each day.  She kept a gratitude journal; and at the end of each day, she would write down all of the gratitude she experienced that day.

On October 24, 1972, Marie was one of few students on campus to be invited to participate in the dedication of the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system.  Both of West Virginia’s Senators and the area’s Congressman were in attendance.  Also participating was Tricia Nixon, President Nixon’s daughter.  Since the event was just days away from the Presidential election, it was also covered by the national press.  The PRT was to be a demonstration of the Nixon administration’s efforts in public transportation.  Student protestors of the Vietnam War were in full force and threatened to drown out the speakers.

Outlined below is Marie’s gratitude journal for the day.

“Today was wonderful.  I have many things to be grateful for.

  • Only in America could a person who has only lived in this country for 15 years meet the leaders in Washington and the President’s daughter.
  • I am grateful for how kind Tricia Nixon was to me. She was very curious about my experiences coming to America.
  • I am especially grateful to Senator Randolph. When students threatened to be disruptive, he spoke to them directly:  “I was the author of the 26th Amendment which gave 18 year-olds the right to vote.  Please respect your voting privilege by being courteous enough to let others hear the speakers.”  The disruptions stopped immediately as a show of respect for Senator Randolph.  I’m very grateful for Senator Randolph for believing in me and my classmates to be responsible citizens.
  • I am very grateful for America’s investment in public transportation.”

Gratitude like Marie’s has become a lost trait.  We have become an entitlement society.  Our expectations are often divorced from the efforts required to meet our expectations.  Those born of privilege often don’t reciprocate their status in life with gratitude towards those who support their privilege.

How might our society change if all of us kept a gratitude journal each day?  What might our attitudes be like if we replaced each grievance with two things we were grateful for?  How might our relationships with others change if we were more vocal in our appreciation for the support we are given?  Finally, how might our sleep improve if we recorded our gratitudes as we went to bed each night?

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“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.”  – Lionel Hampton (jazz vibraphonist)

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Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.