by: Allen Domelle
It was August 1, 1620, one hundred and forty-two people, forty of which were Pilgrims, set sail across the Atlantic Ocean heading for Virginia on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom. These people had experienced religious persecution in England, and they desired to live in a land where they could freely serve God.
For several months these pilgrims sailed through storms and rough waters just so they could have the freedom of religion. Encountering a storm that blew them off course, they arrived further north in Plymouth, Massachusetts. On December 11, 1620, the Pilgrims stepped on the ground at Plymouth Rock.
Their attempt to settle was not without struggle. When they landed, William Bradford wrote in his journal that they found a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. They had no hotels to live in till they were established. There were no restaurants at which they could feed their families. They had no friends to greet them and to bring them to their homes, and there were no homes to live in to shelter them from the cold winter. The first winter they endured was very difficult due to the cold and the snow. These conditions made it hard to find food to eat. Half of the colonists died of either starvation, sickness or exposure.
In the spring of the new year, understanding that socialism would not work, they planted their crops, trapped animals and established the first colony as a free enterprise society, thereby rewarding those who worked the hardest. This free enterprise gave incentive to the people, for the more they produced the more bounty they would receive. By that fall, these colonists wanted to thank God for his bountiful blessings and protection throughout that year. This was the first unofficial thanksgiving. That first Thanksgiving Day was simply a time they set aside to thank God for His bountiful blessings and for bringing them through their struggles to experience religious and civil freedom.
Many years later on October 3, 1789, George Washington proclaimed a National Thanksgiving Day in honor of the new United States Constitution. He proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted 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.” A Part of his proclamation reads:
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, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and 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 previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us…
Thanksgiving is more than just Turkey Day, as the liberals would like to call it. It is a day when Americans thank God for His blessings upon their lives for their hard work. Thanksgiving Day is a recognition of the price many people paid so that we could have the freedom to serve God. We must never forget what our forefathers went through for the founding of this great nation; a nation that was founded upon the premise to freely serve God.
On this Thanksgiving Day, let me encourage you to truly be thankful for God’s bountiful blessings. God commands in Psalm 105:1, “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.” Take time before your meal and talk about the wondrous deeds that God performed for you this past year.
Remember Psalm 106:1 when it says, “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” After talking about the blessings of God, take some time before the meal to thank God in prayer for His mercy towards you and your family, and this great country in which we live. Don’t get so wrapped up in the activities of the day that you don’t stop to thank God for His goodness, mercy and the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Make this Thanksgiving Day a true day of thanksgiving towards God.