Long ago, we grew past the religious origins of “the first” Thanksgiving, as related in the story of the pilgrims leaving their homes in England, seeking religious freedom in the Americas. They landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and were saved from the harsh winter by Native Americans the following year. Over a hundred years later, George Washington dedicated a day of thanksgiving as a way to commemorate winning the Revolutionary War.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s, after a 36-year campaign by magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale, that Abraham Lincoln designated a day of thanksgiving as a means to heal a shattered country during the Civil War. It was celebrated every year until 1939, when President Roosevelt signed a bill into law on December 6, 1941. With that, Thanksgiving became a federal holiday, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November.
Thanksgiving has always been a means to heal a divided, traumatized country when we desperately needed to believe we could come together and see a future beyond the current challenges dividing our nation. At our lowest moments, it was how the country came together to give thanks for what we have, stand for, and believe in.
Now, it’s one of the few days a year when most of us close our doors of business and open our homes and hearts with thanks. In the midst of a divisive, contentious climate, may we remember and give thanks for who we are- the United States of America. We have always been a breathtaking symbol of freedom, humanity and diversity.
This year has been difficult for our country, politically divided, while battling a raging pandemic that has destroyed families across our nation.
Today we take the time to reflect on all we have and all we hold dear-
The freedoms we cherish and too often take for granted.
To those who have given their lives to get us here and those who continue to honor us with their service.
For the food we are about to enjoy as we acknowledge that so many around us go without.
For our friends, family and loved ones who make our lives richer, while remembering those long gone.
To everyone, may this holiday bring you health and happiness as we share our thanks.