The Truth of Thanksgiving

Our nation has dramatically changed since the inception of this special day.

I asked my students if they knew the original intent of the day we now call Thanksgiving. To my consternation, these were a few of those responses:

"Isn't it to celebrate the final time we showed unity with the Indians before we massacred them?"

"I think some important document might've been signed that day, right?"

"Does it symbolize how the Native Americans taught white people how to cook?"

These are some of your nation's college students...participants in American high academia.  Our country may be in serious trouble.

In an effort to spark an argument for the benefit of the next composition assignment, we read President Lincoln's official Thanksgiving declaration. To my students' surprise, they learned that our then-leader openly believed that America resided under "the ever watchful providence of Almighty God." They discovered that we have received "the gracious gifts of the Most High God." They saw that the original goal of our founders was to "praise our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens." They read how Lincoln asked for "the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation" and our actions to be "consistent with the Divine purposes." And they noticed that he signed the document "in the year of our Lord."

In 1863, in a country battling racism and separatism, in a land divided by the blood of our brothers, Lincoln wrote of guidance from a higher power and blessings bestowed by an eternal giver. In 2008, in a country embracing humanism and secularism, in a land divided by the ideologies of our neighbors, we need Lincoln's words now more than ever. We are a nation fighting against God while Lincoln fought for Him. And in our efforts to exclude divinity, we have created taboos of moments of silence, scandals over school pageants, and lawsuits over morality. Thanksgiving was initially intended as a day of Christian observation.  Today, food and football are America's religion.

So this begets the question:

For those of us who do keep the holiday as the Pilgrims intended and follow the words of Lincoln, Thanksgiving is a peaceful day of prayer, family, and worship for the gifts bestowed upon us. But for those in our society of secularists who incorrectly sing the "separation of church and state" mantra, shouldn't it just be Thursday? I've never understood how a government that claims to be irreligious gets to take part in religious celebrations. 

But in this spirit of giving and kindness and blessing, I will forgive those who misinterpret the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I will recommend that all Americans, regardless of beliefs, take part in being thankful for living in the greatest country God has ever allowed to be created. And I will offer some specific thanks of my own.

I will give thanks to God that our nation has brave men and women fighting to defend our land and our liberty.

I will give thanks to God that He has blessed my family with safety and health for another year.

I will give thanks to God that even though my candidate of choice did not win last year, He allowed me the freedom and opportunity to cast my vote.

I will give thanks to God that I am free to choose whatever career I want and, for now, am free to spend my money at my discretion.

I will give thanks to God that I have a spouse who believes in being thankful.

And I will give thanks to God that I am free to thank God any day of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving.
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