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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters at a polling place in Baltimore on Oct. 30, 2014.
Patrick Semansky—AP

As I wind down my eight years of service as governor of the state of Maryland, I’ve started to reflect on just what drives me in this role. I’m grateful that I’ve been given the distinct honor the last 15 years of first serving Baltimore and then Maryland. I’m even more grateful, however, for the people I’ve met along the way who have inspired me and made me strive to do better as a public servant.

I’m thankful for boys and girls in cities like Baltimore and Bowie in Maryland who are learning in better schools, breathing cleaner air, and playing in safer neighborhoods where we’ve driven down drug addiction and gun violence.

I’m thankful for the idealism of their teachers and the dedication of their parents.

I’m thankful for the police officers, firefighters and first responders who keep us safe at home and the brave members of our Armed Services who keep us safe through their service abroad.

I’m thankful for the jobs being created in Maryland’s Innovation Economy – and the men and women working on the cutting edge of new cures, discovery, and healing, many of whom were able to afford college thanks to five years in a row with no college tuition increases.

I’m thankful for those hard-working individuals that have come to our country from other places. I keep a sign on my desk that reads, “Irish Need Not Apply,” to remind me that all of us come from some other place and that our greatest strength lies in our diversity. I feel proud knowing many of these individuals can now get drivers licenses to drive more safely on our roads or access in-state college tuition to help them contribute further to our state and country.

It’s these people that remind me that we all have a responsibility to advance the common good, to uplift the dignity of each individual, and to understand that we are all in this together.

But most of all, I’m grateful for my family. For my parents who instilled these beliefs in me and for my wife and children who continue to support me.

From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.

Martin O’Malley is the retiring Governor of Maryland.

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