Today we celebrate Thanksgiving, a tradition that began with a feast the Pilgrims shared with the Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth Rock in 1621.
In his annual proclamation, President Barack Obama noted that Americans everywhere would gather with family and friends today to recount the joys and blessings of the past year.
“This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives,” he wrote. “As many pause to lend a hand to those in need, we are also reminded of the indelible spirit of compassion and mutual responsibility that has distinguished our Nation since its earliest days.”
Obama noted that such presidential proclamations go back to our nation’s infancy.
“When President George Washington marked our democracy’s first Thanksgiving, he prayed to our Creator for peace, union and plenty through the trials that would surely come,” Obama wrote. “And when our nation was torn by bitterness and civil war, President Abraham Lincoln reminded us that we were, at heart, one nation, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break.”
Obama encouraged Americans to give thanks for those who honor our nation’s proud heritage by giving back.
“This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home,” he wrote. “We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. Their actions reflect our age-old belief that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and they affirm once more that we are a people who draw our deepest strength not from might or wealth, but from our bonds to each other.”
As we gather today, let us remember the Pilgrims. They had seen friends and family members perish during a difficult voyage, and even after reaching their destination, they were struggling to survive in a strange new world.
Still, they took time to share what they had and to say thanks for their blessings.
Let us all follow their lead. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.