But giving thanks is especially important in tough times as it helps to focus our hearts and minds on the important things.
Today the nation will pause as we spend time in a day of thanksgiving for the tremendous blessings of this land. Some years, when things are going well and life glides along smoothly, celebrating is easy.
This Thanksgiving, however, may be tough for some. Our country faces difficult times, economically and politically. We are as divided as ever. So much so that even Thanksgiving itself — this great American tradition — is under attack by the radical left.
But giving thanks is especially important in tough times as it helps to focus our hearts and minds on the important things in life, the things that truly matter — Faith, Family and Freedom.
I love Thanksgiving. It’s not just a day off work, or a day devoted to parades and football. It’s not even about turkeys and pumpkin pies. As the name makes clear, it is a day devoted to 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. 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 the strong religious foundation of this country, 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, to celebrate our 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.” In 1941, as America confronted a world at war, Congress voted to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
In his 1988 Thanksgiving address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan said:
“We Americans have so much for which to be thankful… But prosperity is not an end in itself. It helps us pay attention to the more important things: raising our children as we want them to be raised, helping others in need, and bringing nations together in peace…
"We will give thanks for these and one thing more: our freedom. Yes, in America, freedom seems like the air around us: It’s there; it’s sweet, though we rarely give it a thought.
"Yet as the air fills our lungs, freedom fills our souls. It gives breath to our laughter and joy. It gives voice to our songs. It gives us strength as we race for our dreams.
"Think of those around the world who cannot bow their heads in prayer without risking their lives… And then think of how blessed we are to be Americans. Yes, as we gather together this Thanksgiving to ask the Lord’s blessings … let us thank Him for our peace, prosperity, and freedom.”
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.”
As Carol and I reflect on what we are thankful for, we thank God for our children and grandchildren. We are especially thankful for the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and for the sacrifices of their families. We are grateful that America still produces patriots who are willing to “give up their todays for our tomorrows.”
And we are so very thankful for each of you. Our partnership has created bonds deeper and closer than we ever expected and blessings far beyond what we ever can express.
We wish for you and your family all of God’s blessings at this special time of year. And we thank you for the continued friendship and support that make possible my work in defense of our values.
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