Thanksgiving: A Unique American Holiday
Nov 18, 2011 -
In 1981, President Reagan told the country in his Thanksgiving address “America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history.” This Thanksgiving, whether you are traveling out of state to visit family or staying home to celebrate with friends, we will all take time to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, one that we have celebrated for nearly four hundred years—since even before the formal birth of our country.
The first Thanksgiving is traced to 1621 in Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. After an exceptionally difficult first year in the New World, the Pilgrims overcame a lack of adequate food, proper housing and were struggling in the bitter cold. However, with the help of native Americans, they welcomed their first harvest, which was plentiful, and the Pilgrims feasted and celebrated for three days with members of the Wampanoag tribe. This marked the first Thanksgiving and it continues as a tradition for Americans to join together and give thanks.
This year, many of our neighbors in Central Washington are facing challenging economic circumstances and may have less this year than in years past. I hope that in the spirit of Thanksgiving, those of us who can give back do so for those less fortunate. I believe that hard work and the strength of the American fortitude will enable us to overcome whatever challenges are ahead.
Also, this year many families will have empty seats at the table because their loved ones are fighting overseas. For all Americans, Thanksgiving should also be a day to thank the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces. They are the individuals fighting to protect the freedoms and rights that make us the great nation we are. Their sacrifices are the reason why we can celebrate and give thanks for all that our nation has to offer and provide.
In the first presidential Thanksgiving proclamation, Abraham Lincoln in 1863 wrote, “In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict…”
In a divided nation and in the midst of a civil war, President Lincoln’s belief in America was strengthened by the knowledge that what makes America great will one day unite us again. That same belief in the American spirit holds true for our country today. In a time of war and economic turmoil, Americans maintain optimism about the future and enjoy unique liberties and freedoms people of other nations can’t. Our schools remain open, roads continue being built, and the crops harvested. While some might take these things for granted, this is what make us great and what separates us from billions of less fortunate individuals around the world.
When I sit down with my family and friends this week, I will be thankful for having the privilege of representing those in Central Washington and fighting to leave the next generation better off. Although times are tough, we as a country still have our freedom and a spirit that will continue to make America the most admired and freest nation on earth.