This is the link to my travel book post about my recent trip to London and Paris. I started with 15,000 words from my diary I wrote during the ten days and I’ve added about 7,000 more words since. I have a good feeling about this and I am enjoying the process and sharing what I’ve written with my friends. Let me know what you think if you click the link to go read.
The fourth Thursday of every November is celebrated in America as Thanksgiving. Although the first official government Thanksgiving Proclamation was back in 1777, it was President Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving to be a Federal Holiday. It was made permanent in 1941 to always be on the fourth Thursday of November.
Despite the often sporadic nature of Thanksgiving, it has remained a day set aside by many families to be thankful for events in their lives. To the early European settlers and to the founders of the United States of America, this day of Thanksgiving was for and about Almighty God and seeking His favor and forgiveness. It also coincided with the time of fall harvest and giving thanks for a full larder enough to get through the harsh winter was reason enough for a day of prayer.
As the nation grew through times of war and discovery, immigrants from other parts of the world began to come to this new land. Many came from across the ocean enslaved in shackles or as bonded servants. For them Thanksgiving was surely a bitter notion and freedom held to be only a mockery. So too did the Natives have cause for tears when those who had hunted and fished for centuries were forced off their ancestral lands or died from imported disease.
When President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to be a Federal holiday, it was not in the spirit of the Civil War which soon engulfed the young nation. Nor did the families of the 620,000 soldiers on both sides who died have much cause for celebration and thanks. The wounded and the ravaged civilian populations may have given thanks for surviving, but the suffering reverberates to this day. Many would argue that this was a conflict to end slavery, but it was as much about State’s rights and the economic divide between North and South than it was about freeing Africans from bondage.
Yet Thanksgiving endures, despite the constant barrage of commercialism and the problems that have persisted through the 231 years of America’s existence as a nation. We are constantly bombarded by images and stories of violence and death from everywhere humans reside. We as a species seem unable to rise above our emotions and desires and accept the differences that make us strong. We as a people, as a nation are not the only ones living on the Earth and yet we act as if we are the most righteous.
On this day of thanks, I give thanks to all of you who have called me friend and given me hope in the future of mankind. Bless you one and all and may this time for you and your family be one of peace and joy.
President George Washington issued a national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.