On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that every fourth Thursday of November would be a federal holiday; a National day of Thanksgiving. It had been celebrated it different ways going back to the “First Thanksgiving” which was a harvest feast and celebration commemorating the Pilgrims having survived their first winter in the New World. In spite of roughly half of the settlers having died that first winter; they set aside a day of praise and rejoicing for the blessings that had been given to them.
President Lincoln declared this day of Thanksgiving during the Civil War. A time in which our nation was divided and fighting bitterly. It seemed as if a nation that had so recently been founded on the principle of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would destroy itself before it had celebrated its one-hundredth birthday.
William H. Seward, President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, is credited for writing the proclamation, which sets forth the reasons that, as a nation, we should celebrate a day to thank God for all of His Blessings to us. “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 while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, 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, tranquility and Union.”
In reading those words I was struck by their application for us today. We are a nation with many things to be thankful for. We have houses, cars, education, jobs, and freedoms that surpass even the wildest imagination of people in other countries. For these, we should be extremely thankful.
We also live in a nation that is suffering from civil strife, division, anger, and hatred. The divide seems to be an ever-widening gap that cannot seem to be bridged; much like the Civil War of Mr. Lincoln's day. Yet in this particular proclamation is hope. The hope that can only come from an awareness of a Loving, Kind, and Benevolent Creator Who hears us when we call upon Him.
This Thanksgiving, as we thank God for the blessings he has poured out on our families and nation. Let us also call on Him for His…”Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”
God Bless America!
Chance Erwin is a Christian husband, father, Marine, patriot, citizen and Renaissance Redneck. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.