What I am Thankful For

 I am Thankful that I am an American


About 100 years ago my grandparents escaped the Ottoman Empire where people who did not follow Islam were subject to automatic execution if found on the street, and brought my parents, then about five years old, to the United States. My father explained to me that he, as a child, saw Turks on white horses ride through the Jewish quarter of Istanbul – where he was born – slicing off the heads of Jews with a long sword just because they were visible to the horseman. As a result of the wisdom of my grandparents, all but one who died before I was born, I was born an American to my Naturalized American parents.

I was born in Los Angeles and have lived all of my 73 years in Southern California except for the three years I spent in the U.S. Army. I became an insurance adjuster, lawyer, consultant and author with some success. I have either met or communicated with all of you because my grandparents were able to immigrate through Ellis Island.

My grandparents asked for nothing from the United States but the opportunity to live safely and work to earn their living. They did so while learning English, found menial work, and survived to make life better for their children. My father made it through the third grade and worked full time thereafter. My mother had very little formal education and as a young girl worked in a sewing business often called a “sweat shop” where she was paid pennies per garment completed. Before my parents met they both worked multiple jobs for minimal wages.

Because he worked three jobs all through the Depression and the 1940’s, from building Liberty Ships to driving a cab, driving a delivery van, being a short order cook, and many other odd jobs my dad was able to open a dry cleaning business that supported our family in comfortable poverty. By the time my dad retired that business allowed my brother to support his family and kept my mother well cared for until she passed when she was 100-years-old.

I was the black sheep of the family and was the first to graduate college and attend law school. I practiced law actively for more than 43 years. I now limit my work to consulting and testifying as an expert witness on insurance claims handling, insurance coverage and insurance bad faith.

Thanks to the wisdom of my grandparents to make their way to the U.S. my parents survived, met, married and gave my siblings and I life that we would never have seen if they stayed in the Ottoman empire since my grandparents would never have survived to give birth to my parents and neither I nor my siblings would have been born.


Today, I and my extended family, live comfortably in Southern California and I get to do what I like to do most, write about insurance and insurance fraud and tackle convoluted insurance coverage and claims matters as a consultant and expert witness.

My family and I have much to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is you, my friends, clients and readers of my blogs “Zalma on Insurance” and “Zalma’s Insurance 101″, the Newsletter  “Zalma’s Insurance Fraud Letter,” and my books and columns.

We Americans (first generation Americans like me) or those who came over from England on the Mayflower, have celebrated Thanksgiving when we were just a colony of Great Britain to give thanks for the good things in life at least once a year. It took Abraham Lincoln, our greatest President, to make it an official holiday. The Thanksgiving holiday gives me the opportunity to consider the blessings my family and I have received and to thank all who have made it possible.


Please allow me this opportunity to explain to you all the things I, and my family, can give thanks for:

  1. I have loved my wife of 48 years since she was 9 and I was 12 when we first met. I am thankful that she still loves me and lets me make clear every day that I love her more now than I did when I was 12.
  2. My three adult children who are successes in their own right.
  3. That my three children and one grandson live nearby, put up with my wife and me, and are healthy, successful, and mostly happy in what they do.
  4. My clients who, for the more than 42 years have allowed me to earn a living doing what I love.
  5. My grandparents for having the good sense to leave the Mediterranean at the beginning of the 20th Century so we could avoid the Holocaust.
  6. My country for giving me a place to live and work in peace and complain about it without fear.
  7. Those of you who read what I write and gain something from it.
  8. Seventy three years of mostly good health that gives me the ability to continue to work – albeit at a reduced rate.
  9. The hundreds of friends I have never met but with whom the Internet has allowed me to communicate in parts of the world I have never visited.
  10. My publishers and editors who help me make whatever I write intelligible and in proper English.
  11. The wonder of the Internet that allows me to publish E-books, ZIFL and my blog instantly on line.
  12. That my family can get together to express our thanks for each other and our happiness this year again without a need for anything but enjoying each other’s company.
  13. That most of you can gather with your families to express your thanks.

The United States – contrary to what you may hear from politicians – has been at war, on and off, with portions of the Islamic world since President Thomas Jefferson sent the Marines to Tripoli. Even with the evil of those Ottoman’s who convinced my grandparents to escape to the U.S. or the terrorist attacks from the decedents of the same people Jefferson’s Marines fought in Tripoli, there is no better place or country in which I would rather raise my family nor better place to live.

When I started practicing law in 1972 new technology allowed a typewriter to erase errors from the keyboard, legal research was done in a large library and took days to find support for an issue, and I needed three professional legal secretaries to keep up with my dictation. Now, using modern technology, I can do the same legal research in 30 minutes on line, need no secretary, and can operate my consulting business with no employees.

Thanksgiving is a day to think about the good things we have in this life, eat a great deal of food, and enjoy the company of family and friends. I cannot express how thankful I am for all of you and that I have been able to enjoy the life my forbears could not even dream of achieving.  I hope, on this Thanksgiving weekend, that you can join my family and me remembering that it is more important to think about our blessings and those things that we have to be thankful for than to get in line for “Black Friday” to buy an inexpensive flat screen t.v. or tablet computer.

Remember all that you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday and hold each member of your family close and let them know you are thankful that they are part of your family and that there is no need to escape to a safe place. You live in the safest, most free, and best place on planet Earth.

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