And the heart of this holiday is family, made clearer as the nation battles 2 wars and rising unemployment.
Peter Fleehan, confetti clown said: "I'll be happy to know that someone who has had a tough year smiles when they see me as a confetti clown."
In Afghanistan and Iraq, servicemen and women aren't around the table with their loved ones.
But they gave thanks for this feast shared at the mess hall with their military family.
Sgt. Chelsea Klemm, Wisconsin National Guard said: "You don't realize what you have until you don't have it anymore. This really makes you miss being at home and all of the pleasures and liberties you have at home."
In Washington, the President is about to announce a new Afghanistan strategy that could increase troop levels there by the tens of thousands.
Mr. Obama asked Americans, in his weekly address, to give thanks to our troops.
He also asked the nation for courage during the worst economic downturn since the great depression.
President Obama said "It is my fervent hope - and my heartfelt expectation, that next thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who have lost their jobs are back at work."'
Back in New York City, gratitude is expressed with cheers and thanks for love.
Belief, gratitude, and togetherness are values to cherish on thanksgiving and throughout the year.
The parade route stretches about 3 and a half miles with people packed in to catch a glimpse, 44 million others watch it on TV.