Thanksgiving Day message from E.W. Jackson

Thanksgiving, unlike some of our other national holidays, is unique to America. Its history traces back to the very beginnings of our country. The autumn feast that was shared between the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans in 1621 is viewed by most students of American history as our first Thanksgiving. Some, who want so desperately to sanitize our history of all mention of God, deny the celebration had any religious significance. The historical record tells a different story.

Edward Winslow, in attendance at that first feast, wrote to a friend in England, “And God be praised, we had a good increase… Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might after a special manner rejoice together… These things I thought good to let you understand… that you might on our behalf give God thanks who hath dealt so favourably with us.”

Then over 250 years later, the original intent of thanking God remained the focus of Thanksgiving. As George Washington said in his Thanksgiving Presidential 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… requested me to recommend… a day of public thanksgiving and prayer… by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God… Now therefore I do recommend… 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…”

By the days of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, the Thanksgiving Proclamation was an admonishment by one of our greatest presidents that we should never forget God:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

We Americans have so much to be grateful for, but the Thanksgiving holiday is meaningless if we forget to Whom we are to be grateful. The first way we can show our gratitude is to respectfully acknowledge that our Creator, as our Founding Fathers said, endowed us with unalienable rights. Another way of showing thankful hearts is honoring the Constitution that has secured our freedom for two hundred and twenty-six years. And a third way is to see Thanksgiving not as a day that comes and goes, but as a day that sets the tone for the entire year. We should celebrate it as a day that restores our hope in the blessings and favor of Almighty God; a day to remember that we, and the great nation we call home, are rooted in a deep reservoir of faith. If we disconnect from our roots, we disconnect from the truths that made us free and strength that made us the greatest nation in all of human history.

Let us always be thankful, that we may always be free in His favor, and great in His sight.

For God & Country,

E.W. Jackson

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