Although the exact date is in dispute, it is generally assumed that in the Fall of 1621 in the vicinity of Plymouth Plantation, a group of very grateful colonists set down to a bountiful feast. They had much to be thankful for. They had recently survived a transatlantic voyage, had made friends with the local Indian tribes and were excited to begin a new life, free of the persecutions they had left behind in England. There was no news media to distort or report, but we can safely assume that prayers were said to thank God for their blessings. Speculation is that wild turkey was on the menu. It was game fowl very prevalent in the area and, as we know, centuries later, it was a tasty bird too!
Thanksgiving or “Turkey Day” thus became a tradition in America. The Celebration included a sumptuous feast and in recent years football was added to the day’s activities. It seems as if, not only Thanksgiving, but every holiday in America today, from Christmas to Independence Day has become secularized and exploited for profit. But what are these Thanksgiving Day celebrations really about?
The liberal “establishment” media would have us believe that this nation was not and is not divinely inspired, so we can all only be thankful for our material things. Good food,
football, fun and the celebration of our “successful” careers and investments are blissfully promoted. They proudly boast of the “separation of church and state” and ignore the fact that our Founders spoke frequently of divine intervention in the creation of America.
Most recently Christine O’Donnell, a U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware was mocked by media, law students and “legal scholars” when she asked, “Where in the Constitution does it say that there is a separation of Church and state?” The truth is that she was absolutely correct in her assumption that no such language can be found there. The Founders clearly believed that there should be no state church, but that all citizens in their public or private lives should and could attend the church of their choice. A state church is unconstitutional but going to church is not! No act of government can prevent a citizen from practicing his or her religion in America in public or private. It is our liberal friends and their leaders in the media who want God separated from state. They have led the effort to re-write the debates during the creation of the Constitution, as well as to suggest that many of our Founders really did not believe in God, and did not believe in the Divine inspiration of America.
This now brings me back to Thanksgiving.
George Washington has frequently been second-guessed as to whether or not he believed in God and whether or not he really believed that this nation was a Divine inspiration. Although the holiday of Thanksgiving did not become official until the administration of Abraham Lincoln nearly seventy-five years later, President George Washington made clear the connection between God and Thanksgiving in a 1789 Proclamation. After you read this, maybe you can ask our liberal friends in the media where there is any “wiggle room” in his position on the subject of religion in politics and indeed the nation itself. (The bold is my emphasis to show the reader the number of times Washington referenced God):
“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 favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been able 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.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to The Great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal authority as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.
I guess our liberal elitist friends would say he used a speech writer and did not mean any of it! Hmmmmm.
Simply and succinctly put: In 1621 and 1789 our nation and its citizens were thankful to God for His guidance. In 2010 we need His guidance more than ever.
We now have established that Thanksgiving is about more than a celebration around a turkey dinner. However we should not diminish this American icon. I think we also understand the sacrifice of the Turkey over the years. That bird gave his all to help us celebrate. Ben Franklin was so enamored with this bird that he actually supported it as the national symbol for America in the late 1700’s.
Now Ben was an outstanding printer, inventor, diplomat, thinker and patriot. He usually got things right, but not this time!
Thank God Mr. Franklin was outvoted in 1782 when the Continental Congress selected the bald eagle as the symbol for America. As much as we admire our early patriots, this decision was likely not an original idea. Thousands of years earlier, the Sumarians and Romans had identified the eagle as symbolic of courage, majesty and power.
But now, centuries later, when we see that powerful symbol of freedom, we think of only America, the land of the free and the brave! America and the eagle have become one. If seeing an eagle flying high and free with the wind under his wings, does not give you goose bumps, then your patriotism is suspect. The turkey is the symbol of celebration and thankfulness for the founding of a new nation, but the eagle IS that nation. Free, strong, powerful and majestic, the eagle soars. It is the symbol of freedom around the world.
However, let us not be too hard on Mr. Franklin. For when he walked out of the Constitutional Convention at the end of that long hot summer in Philadelphia in 1787, he was asked, “What kind of government do we have Mr. Franklin?” He replied, “A republic, if we can keep it.”
Franklin warned us that sustaining the nation he had just helped to create would require eternal vigilance and strict adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law. Anything less and America would be just another failed experiment in the attempt of man to protect the inalienable and God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If we convey to our posterity that the eagle captures the essence of the Mayflower compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, then freedom wins and the republic survives.
If we can fully comprehend the courage of this brave band of patriots in 1776 who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor then America prevails. If we understand the sacrifices at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Flanders Field, the cliffs of Normandy, the Chosin Reservoir, the Tet Offensive and Iraq and Afghanistan, America wins. If we appreciate the sacrifices in the rows of graves at Arlington and other military cemeteries around the nation and the world, America will live on.
When you sit down at your table on Thursday, turn off the media , enjoy your turkey, thank God for allowing you the privilege of living in the greatest constitutional republic in the history of the world, and finally pause and reflect upon those whose bloody sacrifices are “the winds beneath the eagle’s wings” for the past 220 years.
While you enjoy your pumpkin pie for dessert, ask yourself, “Am I worthy of taking up
Ben Franklin’s challenge to keep our republic?”
HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
Former Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), known as “Senator Bob,” has joined Accuracy in Media as a Special Contributor. His columns and commentaries on media and politics will be available on a regular basis on the AIM website at www.aim.org. He can be contacted at email@example.com.