THIS WEEK'S EDITORIAL COMMENT: Among the major holidays
which Americans observe, two are uniquely ours: Independence Day, the
Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving Day. But even though Thanksgiving Day
is now being observed in Canada, it still remains as an American-born
event. Today we will recall the origination of Thanksgiving Day and the
way it became an official national observance. In our research on this
subject this week, we came across this statement which -- sadly and
unfortunately -- represents what has become for many people, a current
view of Thanksgiving Day: "Turkey day isn't just about pumpkin pie
and football anymore. Its about shopping now. Consumers get a chance
to grab a great deal on the day after Thanksgiving." So let's recall how
this American holiday began, and think what it should mean to us today.
But first, let's keep in mind that there are, as of today, 713 days till Nov.
6, 2012, and our next national Election Day. 713 days to pray before we
vote to continue to reclaim our nation to its founding principles.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THANKSGIVING DAY BEGAN AS A
RELIGIOUS EVENT, AND THAT IS
WHAT IT HAS BEEN THROUGH THE
YEARS -- BUT IS THAT WHAT IT IS
The story of the first Thanksgiving Day observance is a bit of Amercan
folk lore that all of us know and remember and probably think about and
even talk about at least once every year. . . how the Pilgrims who landed
at Plymouth Rock in the November of 1620, endured the harsh winter
weather of New Enlgand -- during which perhaps half of their number
died -- yet after a successful harvest in 1621, in December of that year
they invited their native Indian friends to join them in three days of
feasting and of giving thanks to God for all His blessings. The familiar
quote by the legendary H.U. Westermayer expressed it so well, "The
Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have
been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day
In 1789, 168 years later, George Washington issued a proclamation
upon the request of Congress, by which he created the first Thanksgiving
Day authorized by the new national government of the United States of
America. In that proclamation President Washington spoke of it being
"the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty
God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits," and said that
both Houses of Congress had recommended designating "a day of public
thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with
grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God." And thus on
October 3, 1789, Washington set Thursday, November 26 of that year, as
the first Thanksgiving Day. In succeeding years there were sporadic
observances of a day of thanksgiving, often so designated by individual
states, and often marked by prayer and fasting.
Then exactly 74 years later, on October 3, 1863, in the midst of the
Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation, establishing
Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. Lincoln was influenced in his
decision to establish such a national holiday by Sarah Hale, an ardent
feminist writer, who is perhaps best known for her child's rhyme, "Mary
had a little lamb." In his proclamation, Lincoln spoke of "the gracious
gifts of the Most High God," and used these words, "I do therefore invite
my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who
are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, 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." Since that Thursday in 1863, Thanksgiving Day has been
observed every year as a national holiday in the United States.
But we all knew all that. We knew that the first Thanksgiving Day was
observed in 1621 as the pilgrims felt it right to thank God for helping
them to get through their first bitterly cold winter on this new continent,
and His blessings in granting them a bountiful harvest. We knew that in
1789 George Washington had issued the first national proclamation of a
day of thanksgiving in which God would be thanked for all His blessings.
We knew that in 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation making
Thanksgiving Day an American holiday. And so it has always been. The
blessings bestowed upon America by God have always been the theme
for our Thanksgiving Day, and our thankfulness to Him has always been
the theme of Thanksgiving Day, from 1621 and through the original
proclamations by Washington and Lincoln. That theme has always
been expressed by U.S. presidents through the years . . . until 2009, the
year of Obama's Godless Thanksgiving.
In his first Thanksgiving Day proclamation as president, Mr. Obama
assumed a unique position among all U.S. presidents -- his was the first
proclamation which failed to directly acknowledge even the existence of
God, or to attribute any of our blessings to God, or to look to God for any
future needs. Instead, his proclamation focused on the American people's
self-reliance and interdependence. His words: "As we gather once again
among loved ones, let us also reach out to our neighbors and fellow
citizens in need of a helping hand...This is a time for us to renew our
bonds with one another, and we can fulfill that commitment by serving
our communities and our nation throughout the year."
And lest he try to assert that this is the trend in America, as expressed
in his repeated speeches that America is no longer a Christian nation,
let's take just a moment to review the proclamations of some recent
presidents, all of whom referred directly to God as the source of our
Jimmy Carter, 1980: "I call upon the people of our nation to give
thanks on that day for the blessings Almighty God has bestowed upon
us . . ."
Ronald Reagan, 1986: "Perhaps no custom reveals our character as
a Nation so clearly as our celebration of Thanksgiving. Rooted
deeply in our Judeo-Christian heritage, the practice of offering
thanksgiving underscores our unshakeable belief in God as the
foundation of our Nation and our firm reliance on Him from
whom all blessings flow."
Bill Clinton, 1999: "As we acknowledge the past, we do so knowing
that the individual blessings for which we give thanks may have
changed, but our gratitude to God and our commitment to our fellow
Americans remain constant... to express heartfelt thanks to God for
the many blessings He has bestowed upon us ..."
George W. Bush, 2008: "On this day, let us all give thanks to God
who blessed our Nation's first days and who blesses us today. May
He continue to guide and watch over our families and our country
In this year's proclamation, President Obama has changed, and in
a lengthy proclamation, twice mentioned God, in these words: "As we
stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next,
we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for
one another, and for our Nation... As Americans gather for the time-
honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance
that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the
loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God."
One can only assume that even the president of the United States can,
upon occasion, see the wisdom in being responsive to the opinions of
the American people.
Tomorrow we will all observe Thanksgiving Day in one way or
another. True, we can make it a day of feasting on the traditional
turkey dinner, followed by equally traditional pumpkin pie, while we
study the daily newspaper to seek out advertised bargains for "Black
Friday" as the Christmas shopping season officially opens. Or we can
do as Christian Americans have done for the 389 years since that
first Thanksgiving Day observance in 1621, and thank God for all of
His blessings, and to ask His help in the days just ahead. The choice
would seem to be what is called in today's parlance, a "no brainer,"
but it is still an individual choice. And for a nudge in making that
choice, consider this thought from one of America's great Bible
teachers of the 20th century, Harry A. Ironside, author of 60 books
on Bible study, and for 18 years pastor of the Moody Memorial
Church in Chicago: "We would worry less if we praised more.
Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction."
And in our prayers of thanksgiving to God, let us also pray that our
president and other national leaders will be given wisdom in dealing
with the current threat to world peace from the rogue nation of North
It is difficult to consider Islam as a "religion of peace" when we
read the daily news. During the Hajj in mid-November, when an
estimated 3 million Muslims made their annual pilgrimage to Mecca,
there the massive throngs chanted "Death to America" and "Death
to Israel," and the Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic
revolution in Iran, urged the pilgrims to engage in a "struggle against
the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regimes."
And there is this very informative -- but alarming -- word from the
Rev'd. Canon Andrew White, the Anglican Canon of Baghdad: "Many
of us Christians in the Middle East are under attack. While we have
been under attack in Iraq since 2003, in the past month it has all
changed for us. 93 Christians were killed in this past year in my
church. In this month alone, over 100 have been killed in Iraq. 59
were killed in one massacre in the Syrian Catholic Church on 31st
October, 2010. Since then, many more Christians have been targeted,
blown up and told they no longer belong to Iraq, and all of them
should leave now or be executed. Things are so hard that many
Christians are fleeing or want to. So our faith is really under attack.
In the midst of the difficulties we know without doubt that our God is
the only way through. We know that our Lord has informed us that
our faith will indeed be under attack and as we get closer to His return
this will not get better but worse. We take hope from the fact that
we are under attack because we believe and know that we are trusted
by our Lord to persevere, and we will."
Dr. Michael Youssef, Egyptian-born founder of Leading the Way, and
pastor of Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, offered this very perceptive
assessment about the potential effect of Islam in America: "Now we are
facing Islamic hostility, Islamic expansionism and Islamic
proselytizing on university campuses across the United States. We see
Islamic takeovers of financial institutions from Barclay's Bank to the
rest of them. Not over there; it's over here. It's happening in this land:
the United States of America. I could go on about the thousands of
mosques and the jihadi schools springing up all over this country.
Islamic prayers are being offered in the White House, in legislative
assemblies and in schools across the land. It is time for every one of
us to wake up. The persecution of Christians is real, and it exists
inside and outside the United States."
We can learn from "What Others Are Saying," or have said . . .
John F. Kennedy: (Applies to the tax cuts issue) "A tax cut means
higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced
federal budget ... As the national income grows, the federal
government will ultimately end up with more revenues. Prosperity is
the real way to balance our budget. By lowering tax rates, by
increasing jobs and income, we can expand tax revenues and finally
bring our budget into balance." (Sept. 18, 1963)
A very concise summary of our national situation from Michelle
Malkin: "America is in debt past its eyeballs. Unemployment remains
stuck near double digits. Small and large businesses, unions and
insurers are clamoring for Obamacare waivers in droves. Jihadists
are making a mockery of homeland security. And border chaos reigns."
A few "One Liners" to brighten your thinking . . .
"While hell may hath no fury like a liberal scorned, Pelosi and Reid
aren't getting mad ... they're getting even."
(Chris Carmouche, GrasstopsUSA)
"Germany doesn't suffer from too much Islam, but too little
Christianity." (German Chancellor Angela Merkel)
"Obama's administration is grafffiti on the walls of American history."
"Our enemy recycles his plots and schemes for every genertion.
Same enemy; same plots." (Trey Monroe, in Facebook)
"This may be the only shovel-ready project in America." (Dick Cheyney
at opening of work on George Bush Presidential Library)
And now, here are a few random "Afterthoughts" . . .
Who you gonna believe? During that unsuccessful trip to India and Asia,
while in his brief stopover in Indonesia, Mr. Obama said that the United
States "is not, and never will be, at war wth Islam." As is so often the
case, he (or possibly whoever programmed his teleprompter) ignored or
misread the facts of history. For example -- and this should have been
known to even the Obama White House -- in 1993 Muslims bombed the
World Trade Center in New York; in 1998 Muslims bombed the U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2000 Muslims bombed the USS
Cole at its berth in Yemen. On "9/11" Muslims again attacked and this
time destroyed the World Trade Center. It is obvious that Islamic groups
have been carrying on aggressive attacks against America for years, and
finally, as a result those attacks, we responded. Someone is obviously at
war with someone. Again we cite the prevailing enigma: it is probably
true that not all Muslims may be terrorists, but in recent history, terrorist
attacks on America have all been by Muslims.
A note on the firearms availability discussions: It is known that since
early in 2000, nationwide more than 500 police officers have been killed
by the use of firearms. There had never been a thorough investigation
into how the killers had obtained their guns. Now the Washington Post
has conducted such an investigation, and to date has ascertained how the
guns were obtained in 341 of the deaths. This fact has also been
disclosed, that 200 of the shooters were felons who were prohibited by
federal law to possess firearms. Many had spent time in prison for illegal
possession of handguns, and at least 45 were on probation or parole
when they killed an officer. As is the case in other situations (for example,
illegal immigration) it would appear evident that existing federal laws are
not being enforced.
Recession? What recession? The economic problems being faced by
so many Americans seem to have been avoided by the present members
of Congress. The collective wealth of congressional members increased
by more than 16% between 2008 and 2009 according to a new survey
by the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly half of the members -- 261
-- are millionaires. On a national basis, only 1% of Americans claim to
be millionaires. 55 are in the $10 million or more range; 8 are in the
$100 million plus range. In 2009, the median wealth of a U.S. House
member stood at $765,010, up from $645,503 in 2008, while the median
wealth of a U.S. senator was nearly $2.38 million, up from $2.27 million
in 2008. Commenting on this report, Shelia Krumholz, the Center's
executive director said: “Few federal lawmakers must grapple with the
financial ills -- unemployment, loss of housing, wiped out savings --
that have befallen millions of Americans." And that's just during Obama's
first year in office.
There is occasionally an encouraging news item, even involving the
nation's court system. First, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,
and now the First Circuit Court has ruled in favor of the constutionality
of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The usual
objector, infamous atheist activist Michael Newdow lost again, but those
atheists are stuborn, and he will doubtless continue his campaign to
remove any reference to God from the Pledge, our currency, the national
motto, etc. Eric Rassbach, of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty,
commented: "All the courts who have dealt with the topic are now
unanimous that the Pledge is constitutional with the words 'under
God' in it -- and that essentially 'God' is not a dirty word."
Our nation's Founding Fathers, and others who made America great,
have always offered wisdom and guidance for us in today's world . . .
"The house of representatives can make no law which will not have
its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great
mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest
bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people
together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and
sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished
examples; but without which every government degenerates into
tyranny." --James Madison, 1788
"The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both
Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution,but to
overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
-- Abraham Lincoln, 1859