A History of Giving Thanks

By: Eugene Kim

2015_24_11_thanksgiving-graphic-2015
Thanksgiving 2015 @DianeHarkey

 

Thanksgiving as we know it today has a long and fascinating association with three former Presidents who each made their mark on this unique American holiday. Each of these historically revered presidents led the United States through the most significant and challenging chapters of our history where at times it appeared that the fate and future of the country rested in their hands.

After the Revolutionary War, George Washington decided to nationally proclaim the celebration of Thanksgiving, in which he gave thanks for our nation’s newly found independence. As the first elected leader of the thirteen colonies, George Washington marked the day by donating beer and food to imprisoned debtors in New York City.

Abraham Lincoln decided to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday during the American Civil War that separated brothers and pitted loved ones against each other. Just a year before, President Lincoln and his wife lost their son, Willie, at the age of eleven. Even in this troubling time, Abraham gave thanks right from the beginning of his proclamation. Lincoln said, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”

President Roosevelt decided to move Thanksgiving from the fifth Thursday of November to the fourth Thursday, in hopes that this decision would help to bolster retail sales and ultimately, improve America’s economy. This was during the final years of the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis America has ever faced, as well as right before War II.

Our nation overcame adversity and turmoil in the last century, yet the American people still found something to be thankful for. As President Roosevelt stated in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, “For the blessings which have been ours during the present year we have ample cause to be thankful.”

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Visit the links below for Thanksgiving events and activities in your area.

Orange County:

Riverside County:

San Bernardino County:

San Diego County:

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