Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Proclaim Thanksgiving (3)

On this year's Thanksgiving Eve, I remember so many Thanksgivings past - among them what was surely the most traumatic national Thanksgiving my generation collectively experienced, Thanksgiving 1963, which fell within one week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Although he did not live to celebrate that Thanksgiving, Kennedy had already issued that year's Thanksgiving Proclamation. In that third and last of his Thanksgiving proclamations, Kennedy recalled the colonial custom of setting aside times for thanksgiving and referenced both Washington's and Lincoln's first Thanksgiving proclamations.

Comparing the United States in 1963 with the context of those earlier Thanksgivings, Kennedy observed:

as our power has grown, so has our peril. Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers--for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.

Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings--let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals--and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.

On Thanksgiving Day, Kennedy concluded:

let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.

Even more needed now than then!

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