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Editorial: Remember real Thanksgiving meaning

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 3:55 PM

For many, Thanksgiving Day has become a time for feasting on turkey with all the trimmings and watching football on television.

It is, however, a day to recognize and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.

Believers have thanked God for his blessings since the time of the biblical Old Testament.

The ancient Hebrews praised God’s love in Psalms 106 and 107 and in the Jewish liturgy.

The first recorded thanksgiving in America was in Texas on May 23, 1541. Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, and his men held a thanksgiving service after they found food, water and pasture for their animals in the Panhandle.

Another thanksgiving celebration occurred June 30, 1564, when a French settlement sang and prayed in thanks near present day Jacksonville, Fla.

On Dec. 4, 1619, 38 English settlers at Berkeley Plantation on the James River in Virginia wrote in a charter that their day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God. Their observance was based on the Harvest Home festivals of England and was entirely religious with fasting mandated.

President George Washington made the tradition a national one when he issued a proclamation of thanksgiving for Nov. 26, 1789, to honor the adoption of the Constitution.

President James Madison mandated a similar day in 1815 to celebrate the end of the War of 1812.

In the Civil War, both presidents Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln issued official Thanksgiving Day proclamations.

Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation stated that Thanksgiving would be observed on the last Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day for 75 years in most states. In 1864, at Petersburg, Va., the starving Confederate Army held a cease-fire on Thanksgiving Day while the Union Army celebrated the day with feasting.

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in order to aid Depression-stricken merchants, stated that Thanksgiving would be held on the fourth Thursday in November.

In 1941, Congress passed a joint resolution setting the date of Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November.

So while enjoying family, feasting and football today, don’t forget the real meaning of Thanksgiving and give thanks to God for all your blessings.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Mike Jones, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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