A Day of Giving Thanks

Praying hands

This Thanksgiving I am feeling especially thankful for the family and friends with whom the Lord has seen fit to bless me.

I am all so very thankful that our forefathers were wise enough to establish a nation under God and provide for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.


The traditional Thanksgiving story is that some time in the fall of 1621, the settlers at Plymouth, Mass., held a feast to thank God they’d survived their harrowing first year in the New World.

A firsthand account of the original Thanksgiving is provided in “Mourt’s Relations,” a series of letters written in 1620 and 1621, primarily by Edward Winslow.

He writes of a harvest celebration, “at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor.”

The settlers’ harvest of 1621 wasn’t great at all. The barley, wheat, and peas the Pilgrims brought with them from England had failed. Fortunately, the corn did well enough. The Pilgrims were happy and thankful to be alive: The previous winter had wiped out 47 people–almost half their community.

What people are thankful for changes from year to year.

The Founding Fathers were happy to have established a government. And Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation expressed thanks that the Civil War had not destroyed the country.

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress. His “Four Freedoms” offered a vision in which the American ideals of individual liberties were extended throughout the world:


Four Freedoms We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way– everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.

The speech inspired Norman Rockwell to create a series of paintings on the “Four Freedoms,” including “Freedom From Want.”

I’m thankful for so many things. I’m thankful to be blessed enough to live in this country where we are still at liberty to speak our minds, where we can debate and come together without fear to celebrate the bounty bestowed upon us. And more than I can say, I’m thankful for the men and women who defend us.

Make sure to take time today to contemplate why you are thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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