Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all across America people will give thanks for their many blessings.
While Thanksgiving goes all the way back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620 the official Thanksgiving in America was finally proclaimed as such by President Abe Lincoln in 1863 the same year our university in Emporia was founded.
Prior to Lincoln’s proclamation this celebration took several turns.
In 1620 the 56 Pilgrims who made it through the first winter celebrated their survival and their bumper crop. Their celebration included 91 Indians who helped them through the winter.
During the three day celebration they dined on wild ducks, geese and venison. It’s doubtful if turkey was part of the meal. Confusion may have set in because the term “turkey” was used widely to describe all wild game.
In 1676 Charlestown, Massachusetts declared June 29 as a day of thanksgiving to express thanks for all their good fortune. Interestingly, their feast did not include the Indians because part of the occasion was to celebrate their victory over those “heathen natives.”
October of 1777 was the first time all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789 although some were opposed suggesting the hardship of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday.
Later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.
It was a 40 year campaign by Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, that led to Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863.
Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. FDR picked a date creating a longer Christmas shopping period, but the public didn’t like it. Finally Congress made the fourth Thursday in November as a legal holiday.
One has to wonder if our Congress today could even agree on that!
So here we are. Thanksgiving 2013. While we have many blessings to proclaim we also have a state, country and world in turmoil. Seems like a proper time to say thank you for our blessings and ask for guidance to help us solve our problems. Shall we pray………..