History tells us the first Thanksgiving in America was held in November 1621 after the first harvest proved to be successful. Governor William Bradford organized the celebration feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag Tribe, now remembered as America’s first Thanksgiving. Future Thanksgivings were celebrated at different dates, and the respective Colonies celebrated their own Thanksgiving.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation encouraged all Americans to ask God to commend to His tender care all those who had become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife and to heal the wounds of the nation. Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day until 1939.
President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales, and in 1941, the President signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
Sadly, in many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance. Instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and/or friends, football, parades, shopping, and other activities. These events aren’t all bad, but we should be looking beyond our personal pleasure and include time to be truly thankful for the blessings in life we have been so fortunate to have experienced.
So for Thanksgiving 2021, as we prepare to munch down on that turkey, ham, or whatever is on the table, let us take time to go back in history to the words of Abraham Lincoln and ask God to “help heal the wounds of this great nation.” Further, let us be thankful for all our first responders, veterans, current military members, and the nurses, doctors, and support personnel who place themselves in harm’s way to protect us. I want to especially thank our current military personnel who serve with such dedication in an effort to preserve the foundation of our democracy. Their willingness to serve, even in missions we and they don’t always understand, is a commitment so deserving of our thanks.
We have so much to be thankful for, and we should share the many things that are so important. Take a few minutes and just review all those things YOU are thankful for, and express them this Thanksgiving Day. In doing so, we will make this Thanksgiving truly a blessed THANKSGIVING.