There was a time when Lou Gehrig was one of the most famous men in America. He and Babe Ruth made the New York Yankees the terror of Major League Baseball, with more home runs between the two than entire opposing teams. Gehrig's records stood for decades. The Iron Horse played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood until Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it in 1995. But today, people know his name for a different reason. His name is synonymous with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

In 1939, The ALS had taken its toll on Gehrig's body, and his health began to fail. He played his last game on April 30, 1939. On July 4, Gehrig was honored at Yankee Stadium.

It would have been easy for Gehrig to bemoan his fate, to concentrate on what ALS had taken from him, but Gehrig didn't do that. With his health failing, his ability to play baseball stolen from him by his condition, he took to the field one last time. Addressing a crowd of 62,000 fans, Gehrig said:

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from your fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter -- that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body -- it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed -- that's the finest I know. So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for."

Instead of remembering Gehrig for his accomplishments on the field, or associating his name with a disease, we should think of Gehrig as a model of humility and gratitude. I hope that while we're eating turkey and watching football this Thursday, we can all take a small measure of Gehrig's spirit and reflect on what is right in our lives and in the world. Let's count our blessings, and we're likely to discover that those blessings outweigh our problems by a wide margin. "Happy Thanksgiving."