It’s a tough year for many to appreciate this thankful and reflective holiday. Remembering that Thanksgiving wasn’t a national holiday until congress and Abraham Lincoln made it one in 1863 at the height of the civil war does wonders if you think the country has nothing to be thankful for this. Here is President Lincoln’s proclamation of the holiday.
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
–Abraham Lincoln 1864
Even at the height of our bloodiest war, a conflict that was truly tearing the nation apart we still had both spiritual and material gifts that a full years worth of holidays wouldn’t be enough to give proper thanks. The differences between then and now, are we have much more wealth and sheer good fortune to be thankful for, yet we seem to appreciate so much less, and we value our spiritual gifts, truly the more important ones even less.
The above is a repeat of the Water Cooler I did last Thanksgiving. If anything it is even more appropriate now than it was then. While things are not yet violent we are ever more divided as a nation. In Lincoln’s time we believed in the same fundamental values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the same basic ideas of freedom, the idea that justice should apply equally to all, read the same bible, believed in the same god, and held the same things to be the common good of all, that seems to be ever less the case. While in Lincoln’s time north and south were still fellow countrymen and more often than not brothers and kin, that is no longer the case between right and left. It is a gap that grows wider with every passing day as the offenses that each side sees in the other become ever more unbearable.
On this day we can only give thanks for the good we still manage to hold and pray for the wisdom to bring us back to being one people and one nation again.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, may you spend it with people near and dear to you.