Our Thanksgiving tradition calls us as a grateful nation to once again take pause to give thanks.
Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours. As we gather with family and friends in celebrating Thanksgiving, amid the turkey, the stuffing, the pumpkin pie, parades and football, we are once again uniquely united to reflect on our rich heritage as a nation that pauses to give thanks.
When the first settlers arrived in on our shores at Plymouth in the early 1600s, seeking a new life, they faced great adversity, from starvation to disease.
Still today our traditional Thanksgiving images are of those ancestors, Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered to share their harvest and give thanks. That spirit of being thankful is reflected in the opening lines of President George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation.
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness…”
Thanksgiving actually did not become a national holiday in the United States until the fall of 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring that the last Thursday in November would be a day of national thanksgiving. In the midst of a brutal and bloody Civil War as the armies of the North and South were engaged in a war that pitted brother against brother, President Lincoln was willing to give thanks both for the good and the bad our young nation.
From Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation: “It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens…”
So as we gather at the table with our families and friends, whether here in Boone our across the miles, we are united to America’s rich heritage and America’s tomorrows; sharing in God’s blessings is at the heart of Thanksgiving and the core of our American spirit.
As Americans we are privileged to call our nation home. May we never take for granted the things that make our country great: the foundations freedom, justice, equality; wrapped in a deep abiding belief in democracy and our fundamental rights to gather, to speak, and worship freely.
Our Thanksgiving tradition calls us as a grateful nation and as individuals to once again take pause, to give thanks and reflect on our many blessings to be counted.
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