As we prepare to observe Thanksgiving 2021, there are many thoughts that come to mind.
This has been another challenging year for many of us. Many of us have experienced both success and loss. Our nation still seems divided although the patriotism and sense of community we see in our cities and towns is simply not what is reflected in the national media. Most of us go to work every day, love and support our families, assist our friends and neighbors if possible, attend religious services if we wish, and try to remain prayerfully hopeful about the future. While the economy has experienced fits and starts—and in some business and industries workers remain difficult to find due to the Covid shutdown—it will undoubtedly rebound if we give it half a chance and don’t overburden it with onerous taxes and stifling federal regulations. American ingenuity, entrepreneurship and hard work will again be our guiding lights and will lead us through these difficult economic and political times.
I have also found that it helps when I focus on being thankful—and I feel we are all more at peace—when we get off of social media and ignore the daily bitterness and acrimony reflected in national politics, instead turning our attention to our faith and our families. I believe that sincere gratitude for our many blessings as Americans is the true key to happiness in this life and salvation in the next. That is the real source of peace and tranquility and for that we can certainly be thankful.
Further, on the importance of gratitude for our many blessings as Americans, and the need for prayerful reflection on the truth that what binds us all together as Americans is far greater than what divides us, I close with an excerpt from President Reagan’s 1987 Thanksgiving Proclamation, the words of which still ring true to me.
“Thanksgiving Day is one of our most beloved holidays, an occasion set aside by Americans from earliest times to thank our Maker prayerfully and humbly for the blessings and the care He bestows on us and on our beautiful, bountiful land. Through the decades, through the centuries, in log cabins, country churches, cathedrals, homes, and halls, the American people have paused to give thanks to God, in times of peace and plenty or of danger and distress.
Acknowledgement of dependence on God’s favor was, in fact, our fledgling Nation’s very first order of business. When the delegates to the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774, they overcame discord by uniting in prayer for our country. Despite the differences among them as they began their work, they found common voice in the 35th Psalm, which concludes with a verse of joyous gratitude, “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.”
In 1789 the government established by that great charter of freedom, our Constitution, and “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,” were cited by George Washington in the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation as among “the great and various favors” conferred upon us by the Lord and Ruler of Nations. As we thank the God our first President called “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” we have even greater cause for gratitude than the fresh triumphs that inspired Washington’s prose.
We have seen the splendor of our natural resources spread across the tables of the world, and we have seen the splendor of freedom coursing with new vigor through the channels of history. The cause for which we give thanks, for which so many of our citizens through the years have given their lives, has endured over 200 years—a blessing to us and a light to all mankind.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1987, let us, in this unbroken chain of observance, dedicate ourselves to honor anew the Author of Liberty and to publicly acknowledge our debt to all those who have sacrificed so much in our behalf. May our gratitude always be coupled with petitions for divine guidance and protection for our Nation and with ready help for our neighbors in time of need.” (Pres. Ronald Reagan, 1987).