[An American Thinker Classic]
From the Pilgrims' William Bradford to George Washington to George W. Bush, I am thankful that this nation is led by those who recognize the hand of God that both guides and provides. May His blessings be abundant in your homes and communities this and every year we observe Thanksgiving and remember its commencing.
"Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth."
So is the tale of the 103 souls of the tiny ship Mayflower which sailed from England to America in 1620. The journey across the Atlantic took over two months. Missing its intended destination of Jamestown, the Mayflower landed instead at Plymouth Rock. The fierce winds had blown them off course, but had it really?
The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of life. The weary travelers, who sought religious freedom in this new land, shared their belief in God with the native population, even as they struggled to survive. And survive they did.
The words above were penned by the colony's first Governor, Bradford. That America sprang from the sacrifice of a people who overcame severe hardship and great trial, is an indication of what makes this country great. That the winds that take us off course can be acknowledged as the guiding hand of Providence, is a tribute to an endearing religious spirit. And that, too, makes this country great.
One hundred and sixty-nine years later, The Proclamation of National Thanksgiving was given by President George Washington. We are now 216 years beyond that date, but we still celebrate the words and the spirit of that proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.