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Gary Bauer / Nov. 24, 2016

Be Thankful

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, millions of Americans are hitting the roads or heading to airports to be with friends and family. I love this uniquely American holiday. But it’s not just a day off of work, a day devoted to parades and football, not even turkeys and pumpkin pies.

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, millions of Americans are hitting the roads or heading to airports to be with friends and family. I love this uniquely American holiday. But it’s not just a day off of work, a day devoted to parades and football, not even turkeys and pumpkin pies.

As the name implies, it is about giving thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy.

Thanksgiving traces its origins back to the Pilgrims — those hardy pioneers who arrived on the shores of North America and, against all odds, carved a nation out of the wilderness. They came to the New World not seeking fortune, but in search of freedom, and, more specifically, the freedom to worship God as they wished.

Testifying to America’s rich religious heritage, thanking God for His blessings was a routine experience in our early years. The first official National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress on November 1, 1777, in celebration of the victory against the British at the Battle of Saratoga.

In 1941, as America confronted a world at war, Congress voted to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, President Ronald Reagan wrote:

“America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this Nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings…

"As we celebrate Thanksgiving… we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.

"Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.”

What are you thankful for? A job? A warm home? A loving family? Good health? All of the above, or something completely different?

I am thankful for the hard-won privilege we have to elect our leaders, for our nation’s tradition of peaceful transfers of power, for our religious liberty and our freedom of expression. Those freedoms have been under increasing assault in recent years and we must never take them for granted. I am thankful we have a chance to restore our Republic.

In spite of all the challenges we face today, I believe we can be thankful to be Americans. We are the descendants of the patriots who declared that “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

As President Reagan so often encouraged us to do, I pray that each of us in the weeks ahead will work harder to make America an even better place — a “shining city upon a hill.”

Tomorrow, when Carol and I celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, we will pray for America, for our leaders, for our men and women in uniform and for all of you. We are very thankful for your friendship and generosity. God bless you, my friends, and thank you for being our partners in this great adventure.

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