During a day when Americans reflect on their blessings, a Chicago police officer who was seriously wounded in the line of duty was especially happy to be celebrating Thanksgiving at home with his family.
"I’m just thankful that I can be with my son, waking up with him," said officer Carlos Yanez, Jr. "His smile just lights up my day."
Speaking to NBC 5's Vi Nguyen, Yanez called it a blessing to be surrounded by loved ones on the holiday.
"...I can't stop smiling, but you're right, I could have lost it all that night," he said.
The 7-year Chicago Police Department veteran was shot during a traffic stop in August, and his partner officer Ella French died from her injuries.
"I mean she was always, you know, with jokes, smiling, just as much as I was smiling," Yanez said.
From being released at an inpatient rehabilitation facility in October to receiving his first prosthetic eye earlier in November, Yanez has made tremendous progress.
"We’ve really felt the kindness of many, many people, and that’s really heartwarming. We’re really appreciative," his wife, Brenda Yanez, said.
This holiday, Yanez Jr. said he was just thankful for the support from the community and won't take another moment for granted.
"I can only say thank you, I can never repay you back," he said. "I’m going to do what I can with the second chance I’m getting."
The officer's father, Carlos Yanez Sr., a retired Chicago police officer, said this Thanksgiving was special - without a doubt.
"We’ve taken a lot of things for granted in our lives, like most people do," he said. "It isn’t until you experience tragic events for one of the family members, it brings us closer together and at the same time we understand how fragile life is."
Yanez Jr. also got a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family in blue at the Fraternal Order of Police. He plans to attend a hearing next month for the two men charged with shooting him and killing French.