With Thanksgiving falling right in the middle of this busy holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of it all and forget what the holiday is all about. While we can’t blame anyone for being preoccupied baking pies, making sure the turkey is perfectly prepped, and getting the right hostess gift, it’s important to take a moment to reflect about all that we must be thankful for in our lives. Our very freedoms, the importance of our faith in God and in each other, as well as our fellow countrymen, are always at stake.
Our first President, then General, George Washington called our revolution to secure our freedom, the cause. Our nation’s cause will always be under attack from both inside and outside forces of tyranny. Therefore, the very idea of giving thanks for a greater good, to something or someone greater than ourselves, must be continued in a tradition befitting our continued cause for freedom. This cause, or as I call it, our experiment in democracy, is built on sacrifice and perseverance in order to retain the American dream.
The phrase “freedom isn’t free” is a reminder that freedom must be guarded and defended whenever it comes under attack. Sacrifice is a hallmark of who we are and why we decide to stop, even for a brief moment, once a year, to offer thanks for so many blessings we each count daily in our lives.
For example, President Ulysses S. Grant observed that Thanksgiving would be a day of “praise and of prayer to Almighty God, the creator and the ruler of the universe” and further recommended “to all the people of the United States to assemble on that day in their accustomed places of public worship and to unite in the homage and praise due to the bountiful Father of All Mercies and in fervent prayer for the continuance of the manifold blessings he has [promised] to us as a people.” What powerful testimony and remarkable leadership then (1869) for such a time as we face even now (2023).
It was his former boss President Abraham Lincoln, after the victorious but very difficult Battle of Gettysburg displayed the cost of war along with apparent insurmountable odds, who proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be set aside as a day to reflect on the sacrifices of Gettysburg, and of all previous wars, as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father.” President Lincoln wanted Americans to reflect on the tender care we must offer to those who have gone before us and to those who suffer because of the consequences of war. Thanksgiving is a reminder, despite the challenges we now face, there is a fruitful bounty in our lives that we must all reflect upon while we enjoy each other’s company and offer thanks for this still plentiful nation that remains the freest, most abundant on earth.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones,