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CHICAGO – City and state politicians welcomed newly settled Afghan refugees to Chicago with a special Thanksgiving dinner.   

For many of the families, Tuesday’s dinner was a chance to experience the true meaning of Thanksgiving – being grateful for all you have despite great hardship. 

Afghan refugee Safia says she is appreciative.

‘They are giving me a new life. A new beginning,” she said.

As Afghan refugees flee war-torn Afghanistan, Tuesday’s dinner was a taste of how Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.

“We are rich in our diversity,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

Local and state officeholders joined 34 Afghan refugees for a turkey feast at Golden House Diner – a restaurant owned for years by immigrant families in the diverse Uptown neighborhood. 

The dinner aimed to uplift those still suffering from trauma after being violently separated from their families.

“Even now, I want to cry,” Safia said.

But with change, the Afghan refugees now have the opportunity to plant new roots.

“Chicago was the first city to declare itself a sanctuary city,” said Congressman Chuy Garcia.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicagoans must protect the city’s rich history.

“The truth is, it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t show how we are welcoming, if we don’t manifest our values and deeds,” Lightfoot said.

Top local and state officials say Thanksgiving is not just a meal but a chance for new opportunities, especially for women and children who suffered so much at the hands of the Taliban.

“I feel blessed,” Safia says, “because I’m here.”