The older I get, the more I appreciate history and what it teaches me of who I am and how I’ve been taught, what I’ve learned, and what I never knew or have forgotten or have not been taught.
Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving in the US
On October 3, 1863, while the deadliest war in our nation’s history raged around him, President Abraham Lincoln declared a “Proclamation of Thanksgiving.” Inspired by George Washington’s words 75 years prior, President Lincoln officially declared into law Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
Lincoln sewed giving thanks and gratitude into the fabric of our society. His angst about the divisiveness in the nation is the source of the values we hold dear as Americans.
Lincoln’s message of harmony and union are relevant now more than ever, says Ben Carson, former Presidential candidate and founder of the American Cornerstone Institute. Today, as in Lincoln’s day, we are a divided nation, reflected in the narrow majorities in our legislature.
During this season of Lincoln-inspired gratitude, history challenges us to remember that differences, especially political differences, do not define who we are. At the end of the day, we are all Americans. Most of us are just working to create a better life and country for our children and our grandchildren, no matter what side of the argument we find ourselves on.
Here are the words Lincoln wrote in his Thanksgiving proclamation.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning 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. 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.”Abraham Lincoln
A United Challenge to Begin Again
I love the name of our country. The UNITED States of America. Our name states a goal that points to the same message Jesus Christ delivered in John 17:21: “May they be one Father as you are in me and I am in you.”Jesus
Goals point us in the direction of our desired future. Gratitude opens us to stand in hope and grace instead of discouragement and despair.
We are responsible for choosing whatever is true and noble and pure (Ephesians 4:8). I choose gratitude, especially for the hard times like now. I choose dignity and justice for all. I choose an identity as an American and a sister of our Lord Jesus Christ and all the hard sayings he taught us.
“Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”James Baldwin
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