Anyone who went through grade school in this country has probably heard about America’s first Thanksgiving: Pilgrims and Indians sharing a three day feast over the pilgrim’s first bountiful harvest.
What I didn’t know until hearing it on the radio was that George Washington was the first president to desire a national day of Thanksgiving. We’d just come through a fierce battle for independence, and Washington knew this young country needed our own traditions. Something different from the ones formerly celebrated as subjects of the English crown, something uniquely our own.
So he dictated a Thanksgiving Proclamation, one filled with gratitude to the Almighty God. While it didn’t exactly join the country’s politics with religion, it did recognize the desire to give thanks to God for the many blessings bestowed on this country. To read the entire (but brief!) proclamation, click here.
Amazingly enough, that proclamation was lost in the shuffle of paper when the capitol was moved from New York to Washington, D.C. While there may have been many harvest time feasts celebrated throughout the following years, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln issued another Thanksgiving Proclamation that this holiday became official. He wanted to remind the nation that even in the midst of war we had much to be grateful for. Read Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation here.
So as you enjoy your bounty and your family this week, remember to thank God for your many blessings, even after or within the midst of any earthly trials. You’ll be in the company of two great presidents if you do!