Diary

One timeless Thanksgiving Proclamation; two not-so-much

Morning Bell: Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving was not formally made a federal holiday until 1941. However, it has been celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November annually since President Abraham Lincoln delivered the address below in 1863. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at The Heritage Foundation.

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are 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. 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 imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

~~

Obama’s:

The audio and video will be available at 6:00am Thursday, November 26, 2009 at www.whitehouse.gov.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Thursday, November 26, 2009

For centuries, in peace and in war, in prosperity and in adversity, Americans have paused at this time of year to gather with loved ones and give thanks for life’s blessings. This week, we carry on this distinctly American tradition.  All across our country, folks are coming together to spend time with family, to catch up with old friends, to cook and enjoy a big dinner – and maybe to watch a little football in between.

As always, we give thanks for the kindness of loved ones, for the joys of the previous year, and for the pride we feel in our communities and country. We keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families marking this Thanksgiving with an empty seat – saved for a son or daughter, or husband or wife, stationed in harm’s way. And we say a special thanks for the sacrifices those men and women in uniform are making for our safety and freedom, and for all those Americans who enrich the lives of our communities through acts of kindness, generosity and service.

But as much as we all have to be thankful for, we also know that this year millions of Americans are facing very difficult economic times. Many have lost jobs in this recession – the worst in generations. Many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and house payments, let alone to save for an education or retirement. Too many are wondering if the dream of a middle class life – that American Dream – is slipping away.  It’s the worry I hear from folks across the country; good, hard-working people doing the best they can for their families – but fearing that their best just isn’t good enough. These are not strangers.  They are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Their struggles must be our concern.

That’s why we passed the Recovery Act that cut taxes for 95 percent of working people and for small businesses – and that extended unemployment benefits and health coverage for millions of Americans who lost their jobs in this turmoil.  That’s why we are reforming the health care system so that middle-class families have affordable insurance that cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition or taken away because you happen to get sick. We’ve worked to stem the tide of foreclosures and to stop the decline in home values. We’re making it easier to save for retirement and more affordable to send a son or daughter to college.

The investments we have made and tough steps we have taken have helped break the back of the recession, and now our economy is finally growing again.  But as I said when I took office, job recovery from this crisis would not come easily or quickly. Though the job losses we were experiencing earlier this year have slowed dramatically, we’re still not creating enough new jobs each month to make up for the ones we’re losing.  And no matter what the economists say, for families and communities across the country, this recession will not end until we completely turn that tide.

So we’ve made progress. But we cannot rest – and my administration will not rest – until we have revived this economy and rebuilt it stronger than before; until we are creating jobs and opportunities for middle class families; until we have moved beyond the cycles of boom and bust – of reckless risk and speculation – that led us to so much crisis and pain these past few years.

Next week, I’ll be meeting with owners of large and small businesses, labor leaders, and non-for-profits from across the country, to talk about the additional steps we can take to help spur job creation. I will work with the Congress to enact them quickly. And it is my fervent hope – and my heartfelt expectation – that next Thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who have lost their jobs are back at work, and that as a nation we will have come through these difficult storms stronger and wiser and grateful to have reached a brighter day.

Thank you, God bless you, and from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

~~

And for our Muslim friends in eight languages

Hajj and Eid Mubarak

Pilgrims from over 160 countries, including nearly 20,000 Americans, have gathered in Saudi Arabia for the annual performance of the Hajj.  They have assembled in Mina and will travel to Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mecca to offer the rites of pilgrimage. On Friday, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha.  The President issued the following statement today marking the beginning of Hajj and the upcoming Eid holiday:

Michelle and I would like to send our best wishes to all those performing Hajj this year, and to Muslims in America and around the world who are celebrating Eid-ul-Adha.  The rituals of Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha both serve as reminders of the shared Abrahamic roots of three of the world’s major religions.

During Hajj, the world’s largest and most diverse gathering, three million Muslims from all walks of life – including thousands of American Muslims – will stand in prayer on Mount Arafat.  The following day, Muslims around the world will celebrate Eid-ul-Adha and distribute food to the less fortunate to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son out of obedience to God.

This year, I am pleased that the Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with the Saudi Health Ministry to prevent and limit the spread of H1N1 during Hajj.  Cooperating on combating H1N1 is one of the ways we are implementing my administration’s commitment to partnership in areas of mutual interest.

On behalf of the American people, we would like to extend our greetings during this Hajj season – Eid Mubarak.

Translations available in Arabic, Persian, Dari, Urdu, Pashto, Russian and French.