It was following Lincoln’s declaration that Thanksgiving, once a mostly New England tradition, became a national holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
This Thanksgiving season, we face more than our usual portion of uncertainty. We are reminded daily in news reports that our nation is heading for a “fiscal cliff” in the new year, a crushing combination of tax hikes and program cuts unless members of Congress and the president can reach a compromise to stop it. The economy remains weak, and job growth is slow. Overseas, our armed forces are still engaged in Afghanistan and fighting has flared between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, while, in the background, the ever-present threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambition looms.
Yet we have much for which to be thankful. Our neighbors in New York and New Jersey are recovering, albeit slowly, from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Despite our sluggish economy and frightening level of debt, America remains a wealthy nation, one blessed with abundant natural resources, enormous productive capacity and an innovative spirit in its people.
And most importantly, we remain a free people. We just completed a national election, the result of which disappointed nearly half of the population. Some states, like New Hampshire, saw the balance of political power shift dramatically from one party to another. Yet there is no rioting, no “rush to the barricades,” no calling out of the military to suppress rebellion. Let us be aware of what a rare blessing this is over the scope of human history.
This Thanksgiving, there is food on our table, with plenty to share with those who haven’t enough for themselves. We are a people who, generally, are happy and content. For this, we are profoundly thankful.
We wish a happy Thanksgiving to all.