Thanksgiving Day Down the Memory Hole

We can blame consumerism and an increasingly secular culture for diminishing the importance and impact of Thanksgiving Day. The hard Left is committed to destroying the last vestiges of America’s traditional, Judeo-Christian heritage. This holiday season is no exception.

The Pilgrim Hall Museum website provides a wealth of information on the Pilgrims and on Thanksgiving. They also provide the text of every Thanksgiving Proclamation.

From its conception and birth, America was inhabited by a religious people with a reverence for God. They trusted in God’s Providence and frequently gathered together formally for celebrations of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day traces its roots back to the Pilgrims who, in 1621, gathered together to celebrate a bountiful harvest.

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Colonists and, later, Americans offered celebrations of Thanksgiving to their Creator and Provider. (President Lincoln’s proclamation of 1863 is provided at the conclusion of this column.)

Political Correctness and Historical Revisionism

Beginning with the Sixties’ countercultural revolution, patriotism and piety began to be looked on with suspicion and disdain. Just as the counterculturalists dispensed with traditional values and mores, so, too, they discarded love of country and love of God.

Thus, they eventually transformed a thanksgiving celebration from one which thanked God to one which thanked the Indians.

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In the interests of being politically correct and inclusive, Education World now offers suggestions for teaching young students, suggestions which actually diminish the celebration of Thanksgiving Day.

One suggestion – “Provide knowledge about contemporary Native Americans to balance historical information.” – does nothing to edify students about the actual subject matter and why Thanksgiving became such an important historical and contemporary holiday. Rather, this suggestion detracts from our Judeo-Christian roots and the significance of this foundational event in our nation’s history.

Another suggestion bluntly discourages an historical reenactment of the Pilgrims’ story: “At Thanksgiving, shift the focus away from reenacting the ‘First Thanksgiving.’ Instead, focus on items children can be thankful for in their own lives, and on their families’ celebrations of Thanksgiving at home.”

Just as Christmas trees have been replaced by Winter Festivals, so, too, the revisionists would like to replace Thanksgiving Day with a generic, non-religious, ahistorical Harvest Festival.

This week, the New Yorker published a Thanksgiving Day caricature employing a Redskins motif. Of course, the caricature trivializes the holiday it parodies even as it nationalizes the controversy over the Redskins team name – a name most Indians favor. (Most people understand that Redskins is not used as a pejorative, but rather as praise.)

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But political correctness is the new totem of the revisionists, and it must be given due homage.

The degradation of America’s Judeo-Christian cultural origins continues without regard for their importance and, consequently, undermines the social, political, and spiritual fabric of our nation.

Recall the reverent words from My Country, ’Tis of Thee: “Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride.” That reverence remains extant in much of the nation’s heartland. Let us hearken back to the middle of the Civil War, when a nation – both North and South – revered God and had grateful hearts.

President Lincoln’s Proclamation

“The year that is drawing towards 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 even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

“In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.”

“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.”

“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.”

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 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.”

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