What Made America Great: Thanksgiving

Fall is here. Temperatures in southern California have plummeted then went up again. For the first time in eight years, I celebrated Thanksgiving outside of the United States. It is so different outside. There is no preparations any where. There are no celebrities on TV giving their annual spiel on showing gratitude, the home and family, or equivalents to the feel-good Thanksgiving movies on the Hallmark Channel (or Lifetime). Black Friday is celebrated in Australia and Amazon is ramping up.

The only thing I read was actress Mayim Bialik’s (Blossom or The Big Bang Theory fame) rather stupid and liberal view on why she does not celebrate Thanksgiving – she’s pro-vegan and thinks Thanksgiving commemorates genocide of the Native Americans. Like most liberals, she missed the points on both counts. For one, at the very first Thanksgiving in 1620/1621, the local Native American tribes helped the colonists on what to eat, what to plant, and pretty much helped the English colonists. Nevertheless, about 50% of the colonists still died. That’s mission failure when an organization or unit loses that many people in one mission. Other than this downer, it was a great time away.

Our first American president – George Washington – issued a proclamation to the nation to give thanks. See that link for the Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789.

Another great American president – Abraham Lincoln – also asked the nation to give thanks. What’s more, he made it annual. Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Why not? The Civil War was devastating and more Americans died than any other war. Families fought each other. Abolishing slavery required sacrifices. A time of healing was needed. Lincoln recognized that only God was the true source of blessings.

In all cases, they acknowledge Divine Providence and all blessings ultimately come from above.

Sure, there are rather funny traditions like the President pronouncing a pardon on a turkey from the chopping block. Or having a Macy’s parade.

But what other country does the same? In fact, whenever another country celebrates Thanksgiving, it usually is because of American expatriates who live there and missing not just “home” but taking time to give thanks. Go to another country and study their history. After all traumatic events like civil wars, did they give thanks that the nation was saved? Most likely not.

Not in China; the Tai Peng rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion (designed to remove foreign influences), the Communist – Nationalist (why would the Communist Party acknowledge a God anyway) civil war.

Not in Cambodia; when the Khmer Rouge were removed by the Vietnamese, did the Cambodians realize what a blessing it was?

Not in any other Asian nation.

Not in Europe; they might have celebrated a Mass if some country won a battle or the war, but only once. Not annually. Not renewed periodically by the national leaders who understood Divine Providence.

America was great because it led the world in a tradition of Thanksgiving (no matter how commercialized it later became). Not due to its military, economy, or even culture, but its ideals in democracy. Democracy declared not just that all men are equal, but equality comes by humility that no one is born better and that God loves us all equally and has blessed us all equally.

America can become great again when it reminds the world, and leads the world, in teaching gratitude (even if you don’t believe in God).

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