Thanksgiving is the highest form of prayer, or recognition, for all that we have and enjoy, and this is so both in the religious sense and in the secular sense. The national holiday of Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to recognize, as a nation, the rights and the freedoms that we posses, all of which are, in a real sense, gifts from God and the nation that we all share together.
To give thanks is to be moved by the fact that we are all dependent on that which is greater than ourselves. It is a response of humility, in that it is the recognition that so much of what we have has been given to us in some way, either by the love of family or the individual generosity of friends and strangers, or by the nation itself. These are immediate things, things that we can hold in our hands or see with our eyes. But there are greater things too, things like those inalienable rights that are articulated in the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness.
The Constitution of The United States guarantees both our freedoms and our responsibilities, and countless millions have offered their service and their lives in our military “to protect and defend that Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic…” These are some of the reasons why we celebrate this national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.
The idea of a day of thanksgiving was first promoted by our first President, George Washington, in 1789. If you know your American history, you will know that 1789 was the year that our first President was inaugurated. This was some six years after the end of the Revolutionary War in which we won our independence from Britain, and, during those intervening years, our forefathers undertook the monumental effort to figure out how to be a nation and how to govern it. It was during that time that they debated over and created that remarkable document we call the Constitution of the United States of America. Washington, as our first President, saw the need for the new nation to express its thanks to God, to those who fought, and to those who created this new experiment in government by the governed and prayed for its success. He declared November 26th of 1789 as a Day of Thanksgiving.
It was not until 1863 that it became an annual, national holiday. In that year, President Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, declared the last Thursday of November, 1863, as a national day of thanksgiving. Ironic as it may have seemed to celebrate a national day of thanksgiving in the midst of a Civil War, it was and has become an important holiday in our national lives together.
We give thanks on this national holiday, especially to those who have served and sacrificed in our Armed Forces to protect and defend the Constitution and the people it represents over the entire history of this country. The video that accompanies this piece was produced by the United States Navy and looks at how sailors, over the long history of our country, have celebrated the Thanksgiving Day national holiday, no matter where they are or were in the country or around the world.
Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are some of the reasons for our being thankful on this Thanksgiving Day. More often than not, they have done so far away from home, family, and friends. We have come to see Thanksgiving Day as a family holiday where we gather together around traditional foods or particular family recipes. Our servicemen and women who are away from home serving on bases all over the country, or in other countries, or aboard ships around the world, will be enjoying Thanksgiving meals prepared by their culinary specialists in galleys aboard aircraft carriers and submarines and in mess halls around the country and the world. You will get somewhat of an idea of what that looks like in this historically interesting video about Thanksgivings celebrated by the U.S. Navy as far back as the late 1800s.
We wish all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who will not be able to be home with family this year a Happy Thanksgiving. We hope your meals will be tasty and your camaraderie fulfilling. We thank all of you for your unselfish service to the nation.Whizzco