Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can reflect on what a wonderful holiday it is and how it brings us together, even if briefly. It is an occasion to pause and reflect on how truly blessed we are to live in America no matter how we view political events.
Those of us who are blessed to live in the United States have unparalleled freedoms and liberties we often take for granted. These freedoms are due in large part to our brave men and women who are serving or have served in all branches of our military. We are free to celebrate or worship this Thanksgiving because of their sacrifice. Thanksgiving should always be a time of celebration, remembrance, and unity. We spend the day with family and friends, and we are reminded of God’s continual provision in our lives.
Not everyone knows that Thanksgiving originated with President George Washington back on October 3, 1789. Washington recognized the role that Divine Providence played in the creation of the United States and her Constitution and was moved to designate a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer.” By doing so Washington acknowledged and thanked God for His mercy and guidance in the country’s formation. President Washington’s words evoke a sincere gratitude and thankfulness to God for our country, for each other, and for all the blessings of this life. We truly have much to be thankful for on this special day and knowing the history of the holiday reinforces our blessings.
“By the President of the United States of America,
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
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 which we experienced 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 enabled 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 hath 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 shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease 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 third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
What Washington started Abraham Lincoln reinforced with a proclamation of his own making Thanksgiving an official Federal holiday. In part Lincoln’s proclamation reads:
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
The sentiment of these two great Presidents needs to always pass down to future generations as we celebrate our freedoms.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and a special thanks to all who help keep us free!