11/21/2011 10:12 pm ET | Updated Jan 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This is my first Thanksgiving without my dad.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss him greatly, but not a day goes by that I don't thank God for blessing me with such a role model.

When I announced this spring that I was writing a book about Dad, I received hundreds and hundreds of emails. I read every one of them but the sheer number, and emotion in each, overwhelmed me. I failed to respond, but please know how much they inspired me to work that much harder on the book and to tell the story of Dad's faith in God, his hope for the future, and his genuine love for each and every moment and for the uniqueness of each and every person he met.

In the course of writing the book, I read the daily letters that he wrote me, some of which I never had a chance (or took the time) to read when he was alive; I read his speeches; and I read others' reflections of him. It's been an emotional rollercoaster but there have been many more highs than lows!

One of the speeches that I came across struck a chord, especially amidst the discouraging news on the political and economic fronts. Dad gave the speech at the University of Notre Dame on February 7, 1968 and I wanted to share a few lines with you:

"We need to make a national examination of conscience. Why do we need a national examination of conscience?? Because suddenly we Americans seem to be panicking. It's time to stop moaning and wringing our hands. It's true; the country is in a crisis. But we have always been in a crisis. We ought to thank God we are. Because then we always have something to test us -- like a piece of steel that stays strong precisely because it is enduring great pressure."

More than 40 years later, those words still ring true. Dad loved what each and every day brought. Sometimes it seems overwhelming to me but his faith in God and his words of encouragement assure me -- and I hope each of you -- that this is the greatest country in the world and that by working together, we can make a difference for our neighbors, for our fellow citizens, and for the rest of the world.

Many thanks for your friendship and support. It means more to Jeanne, our three kids, and me than anything.

Best wishes for a safe and happy Thanksgiving, filled with friends and family and lots of love and laughter.