Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving, 2012...

No matter the adversity, no matter the foe, no matter the conditions, we Americans have much to be thankful for -- Thanksgiving Day or not.

Through the years, the Thanksgiving story has evolved into more than just a recollection of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down to a feast. Still, it's important to remember how it first came to be.

In its first incarnation, the Pilgrims' experiment in socialism was an utter failure. It was only after they "had the humility to learn from their initial mistakes and embrace freedom" that they succeeded.

Much is said and written about Abraham Lincoln's "Proclamation of Thanksgiving," but George Washington probably contributed the most significant proclamation regarding "thanks" in the years following the Pilgrims' celebration.

Here is Washington's proclamation:

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Finally, whether you're eating turkey, watching football, gathered with family and friends, or guarding our liberties in some American outpost, it's important for us to remember all the bounties we've been given; we can never forget the multitude of blessings we enjoy; or the greatness of thisexceptional nation. Today is, most certainly, a day of Thanksgiving.

As we head off to our Bliss Index feast, we leave you with a bit of Thanksgiving levity: the now-infamous "WKRP in Cincinnati" Turkey Drop episode, wherein this classic line is uttered: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

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