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On this day, we give thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2012 - Updated: 6:51 PM

"There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel at how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to ... Thanksgiving Day ... is the one day that is purely American."

-- O. Henry

He didn't need televised football games, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and turkey deep-friers to hit the nail on the head. But O. Henry did just that.

Today is the occasion for millions of families across the country to give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy -- and often take for granted -- all year.

During the symbolic feast we prepare today, we give thanks for food and shelter, for our cherished freedoms, for all the spiritual and material blessings that are ours. And for the love and companionship of our family and friends.

It is from the grateful prayers of our Pilgrim ancestors on a November day in 1621 that our present Thanksgiving is derived. The Massachusetts Bay Colony celebrated the day in 1630 and frequently thereafter until about 1680, when it became an annual festival in the colony. It progressed in the Northeast thereafter until during the Revolution the Continental Congress appointed one or more Thanksgiving days each year.

President George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving in 1789 and again in 1795. President James Madison declared a day of Thanksgiving at the close of the War of 1812. In response to a persistent 36-year editorial campaign by Sarah J. Hale, editor of Goody's Lady Book, governors in most of the existing states had proclaimed Thanksgiving Day by 1858. And in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made it official, designating the first national Thanksgiving Day.

As such, we find ourselves again today counting our blessings and giving thanks for them. A brief moment of gratitude seems little payment for the joys of life we hold dear.


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