I love Thanksgiving. It’s not just a day off work, a day devoted to parades and football, not even to turkeys and pumpkin pies. As the name makes clear, 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 freedom. Specifically, the freedom to worship God as they wished.
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 for the victory against the British at the Battle of Saratoga.
In October of 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a formal proclamation calling on the country to observe the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” And as America confronted a world at war in 1941, Congress voted to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday observed on the fourth Thursday of November.
Continuing that tradition, President Trump issued a formal proclamation declaring this Thursday as a National Day of Thanksgiving. Here are some excerpts from his proclamation:
“On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings. We gather with the people we love to show gratitude for our freedom, for our friends and families, and for the prosperous Nation we call home…
"Today, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with a grateful and charitable spirit. When we open our hearts and extend our hands to those in need, we show humility for the bountiful gifts we have received…
"This Thanksgiving, in addition to rejoicing in precious time spent with loved ones, let us find ways to serve and encourage each other in both word and deed. We also offer a special word of thanks for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, many of whom must celebrate this holiday separated from the ones for whom they are most thankful.
"As one people, we seek God’s protection, guidance, and wisdom, as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great Nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith.”
In spite of the challenges we face today, I believe all of us 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.”
Today, when Carol and I celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, we will give thanks for America, for our men and women in uniform and for you – each and every one of our cherished friends and supporters who make our work possible.
We wish you all of God’s blessings at this special time of year.