On October 3, 1863, at the behest of Sarah J. Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, President of the United States Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation beginning with the words
"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God."
Written in the middle of a civil war of "unequaled magnitude and severity" Lincoln nonetheless wrote that "No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."
Lincoln's proclamation ended with the words " I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."
And so, we come to this, another year filled with the bounties of fruitful fields and beautiful skies, of bounties so consistently enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.
Is it not fitting that we again join together as families and as a nation to observe the last Thursday of November as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens?
We, the people, continue to survive in freedom in this great nation. Is it not fitting that we give thanks?
We continue to enjoy the bounty of fruitful fields and fruitful skies. Should we not give thanks?
We bask in the company of friends and family. We should give thanks.
We may have survived adversity. We are beaten down, but not crushed. Should we not give thanks even for this?
In all things, give thanks!
What are you particularly thankful for on this day?