America’s strength comes from it’s thankfulness. Some may say it comes from being brave, having courage or respecting the “freedom” and civil rights of all men. Some may say it comes from being a democracy, from being a classless society where the pursuit of happiness is possible. All these things are true (and if you needed reasons to be thankful this year, I just gave you five). Traditionally, Americans are not a country of ungrateful ingrates — and if we’re raising a younger generation who are, it’s our own fault.
At it’s root, nothing is more American than being thankful for what we have an wanting to protect it. On the very first year the pilgrims survived after the new land (1621), they proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving — gratitude for being alive. Our first president George Washington declared a national day of thanks, although a reoccuring Thanksgiving as a national holiday was founded by Abraham Lincoln, during the worst year our country had ever seen — 1863. It isn’t as flashy as some of the other virtues, but being thankful is almost as inherent a part of our country as being free. (Don’t believe me? Name 10 other countries in the world who celebrate Thanksgiving. Off the top of your head, can you even name three?)
This year, shortly after Election 2016, there will be cries of how the country is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s true that politics can be dividing, but the fabric of America is stronger than that. You don’t have to be thankful for Trump, but you should thankful for free press, the right to vote (including women and minorities), a non-violent election, peaceful transition of power and two houses of Congress to keep a new president in check.
Today’s post is a #TBT to a post from 2014 (Pilgrims, Presidents and Soldiers) with Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving address, which is just a good today as it was remembered two years ago:
“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.
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 theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
… Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States…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…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, tranquillity, and union.”
America sits on a legacy of toughness, of resilience. Of a nation of imperfect people united by shared a belief in freedom, and thankfulness for that freedom that is recognized on July 4.
And in part, on the 4th Thursday in November.