By Sen. Chip Pearson
ATLANTA (November 21, 2008) – This week as we gather with family and friends, we give thanks and praise God for the many blessings in our lives. During these challenging times for our nation, Thanksgiving is a time to remind us that hope is beyond the stock market, alternative energy solutions and big business bailouts.
This pause for thanks, reflection and remembrance has continued throughout our nation’s history in much tougher times than these, and we have always prevailed together as “one nation under God.”
On the fourth Thursday in November, Americans express gratitude for their good fortune. The American Thanksgiving tradition originated with the Pilgrims. As early as 1621, the puritan colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts set aside a day of thanks for a bountiful harvest. Throughout the colonial period and into the nineteenth century, official days of feasting and fasting commemorated periods of good and poor fortune.
Thanksgiving has been observed since the founding of our country with our first presidents issuing Thanksgiving proclamations each year of their presidencies. In 1789, President George Washington declared the First National Day of Thanksgiving and Public Prayer saying:
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 thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many 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.
It was not until 1863 when Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that the holiday was established as a national annual event, occurring on the last Thursday of November. The first observance of the national holiday came one week after the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Presidents ever since have issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
Despite having to tighten our budgets and realizing we may have less than in previous years, let us take a moment to be thankful for our loved ones gathered with us. Remember and give thanks for those serving overseas to protect our homeland that cannot be with their families, but are doing their honorable duty to protect ours. Practice compassionate conservatism and good stewardship by helping those less fortunate through contributions to food banks, volunteering at a soup kitchen or simply praying for their assistance. We should also remember to be thankful that we live in a nation of democracy where we can voice our opinions and vote for our leaders.
I wish you and your family a safe and joyous Thanksgiving.
Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens, and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9921 or via e-mail at email@example.com.