"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. … 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." Abraham Lincoln, 1863
In Abraham Lincoln’s official proclamation of the Thanksgiving Holiday, he praised our great nation’s abundance of peace and prosperity, health and happiness, industry and innovation. Although he was in the midst of the great Civil War, he recognized the blessings of an otherwise healthy and prosperous Union. A Union that would, in due time, heal itself and becomes even greater than the greatest nations in history.
What a remarkable mind he was blessed with. In the middle of such a national tragedy, President Lincoln saw what was great about America and saw in her the potential for the future. He was not given to exaggeration. A Kentuckian, he knew hardship and struggle. He knew that greatness comes from toil and requires patience and perseverance.
President Lincoln knew America was great despite her struggle and that when it was over, it would be even greater from the challenge it experienced. That he chose this tumultuous time to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving was to seek to reassure us, guide us to see the peace at the end of the conflict, and recognize our many blessings despite our current troubles.
Today, it is easy to overlook the blessings we have been given amid the challenges of a global pandemic and a politically divided nation. That leads us to look more often at what we lack than at what we have.
This Thanksgiving, more than 150 years from its proclamation as a national holiday, let us remember the time of Lincoln. Let us remember how far we have come, how great we have become, and how bright our future potential remains. Let us look to our blessings, be thankful for what we have achieved, and give thanks for all we hold dear.
Whether you are gathered with friends and family or somewhere far from home, I invite you to join me in giving thanks for America and for the blessings and bounty that she provides.
Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless America.