From the Editor: On Thankfulness

Benjamin Pontz '20, Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian)

Benjamin Pontz ’20, Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian (Photo Mary Frasier/The Gettysburgian)

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

As I sit down to write this introduction to The Gettysburgian’s third and final print magazine of the semester, it is two days before Thanksgiving, which I have long believed to be an underappreciated holiday sandwiched between the preposterousness of Halloween and the fervor of the Christmas season. While many engage in a fairly contrived recitation of “something I’m thankful for,” I think Thanksgiving provides an opportunity for genuine reflection and thankfulness. There is virtue in gratitude, and evincing it (whether to oneself or to others) is a choice, one I believe is worth making.

Several years ago, on Thanksgiving, I decided that I wanted to continue to reflect on the blessings in my life past the day we set aside for such expressions. That night, I began a practice that I have continued to this day—before going to bed, as the last thing I do each day, I write down one thing that has touched me in some way for which I am thankful. I have lists dating back to at least 2014 on a clipboard, and a cursory review of the list reveals hundreds of people, dozens of organizations and activities, numerous physical circumstances, and a handful of states of mind that—at the end of a particular day—struck me as worth remembering.

The list is valuable to me in that it helps me end each day—no matter what happened—in reflection on how indebted I am to friends, family, mentors, institutions, opportunities, setbacks, and material blessings for bringing me to that point. In trying moments, the list provides valuable perspective. In moments of triumph or success, the list is a humbling amalgamation the myriad of factors beyond my control that helped to bring me to that point.

Fundamentally, rather than confining gratitude to a single day on which I consume large amounts of turkey (a day for which, indeed, I am thankful), it makes each day a day of thanksgiving.

Today, Nov. 26, 2019, my item is “The Gettysburgian,” and, indeed, I am thankful particularly for the people who make this operation work. A little more than five months ago, the concept for the magazine in your hands was merely a ridiculous idea I had not yet discussed with anyone. Over the course of the summer, the team that I feel privileged to call my friends pulled themselves away from summer jobs and internships to hold a series of phone calls and live chat sessions, agreed to break into small groups to brainstorm how this might work, and breathed life into what was, admittedly, an undeveloped “wouldn’t it be cool if …” thought. The product is beyond what I could have imagined, a testament to the work of dozens of students, almost all of whom plan to do something other than journalism in their ultimate professional lives.

Over the next few weeks, our team will reflect on what has worked and what has not in the first three issues, which have each had a different flavor and level of “punch,” and make plans for refining this product into something with a slightly more consistent framework as we head into the spring semester. As we do, I would, of course, welcome your input. My inbox ( is always open.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ben Pontz

This article originally appeared on page 2 of the December 6, 2019 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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