Happy Thanksgiving, America! This is a uniquely American holiday that dates back to the earliest American settlements. It was first declared by President George Washington in 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God." It was set on the last Thursday in November by Abraham Lincoln.
I hope you’re enjoying this Thanksgiving as best you can. Thanks to inflation (and not the Macy's parade balloon kind), it’s the most expensive Thanksgiving dinner on record. You might be eating strawberry jam instead of cranberry jelly because of the ongoing supply chain problems. And I hope the heat from your oven isn’t the only heat in your house. But we still have much to be thankful for, like that we no longer have Dr. Fauci hectoring us not to spend Thanksgiving with our families or to try to eat stuffing through a facemask. Remember how the COVID-19 virus was a registered Democrat, so it would spread at traditional family Thanksgiving dinners, but not at BLM protests, Obama’s birthday bashes or fancy French restaurants frequented by liberal politicians?
Lately, Thanksgiving has been under assault on numerous fronts. As if high prices and shortages weren’t hitting us hard enough, we were told to cancel Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus, then lectured by wokescolds that the Pilgrims were genocidal racists (these tunnel-visioned nags make me very thankful for the “Off” button on my TV remote.) This year, we had the Washington Post nagging us about how much each dish in the traditional meal allegedly contributes to climate change. These people are more efficient than a Dyson vacuum at sucking the joy out of every aspect of life.
But all these things are, in the long view of history, passing annoyances. The greatest danger to Thanksgiving is the government’s constant push to take away the rights we give thanks for, especially our First Amendment rights to assemble, speak freely and express our religious faith, which are the foundation of Thanksgiving. Our Pilgrim ancestors took a dangerous ocean journey to an unknown and unsettled land seeking those very freedoms and were willing to risk their lives to attain them. So this is a great time to reflect on those days and take inspiration from them that things really can get better, if we all get together and do something about it, even if it means taking some risks. And I assure you the Pilgrims faced much worse risks than being badmouthed on Twitter.
This is also the time to reflect on the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving. It’s not just about turkey and stuffing, football on TV and early Christmas shopping. It even means more than a big family get-together, although that’s a very important part of it that we’re especially grateful for after all the lockdowns and quarantines.
Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to God for our blessings, many of which we only enjoy because we are fortunate enough to be Americans, and we inherited hard-won rights and liberties that were revolutionary in the early days of this nation. Many of them had their genesis in the arrival of the Pilgrims.
Four-centuries-and-two-years ago, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. They had set out on a dangerous journey across the Atlantic in a small ship, the Mayflower, to a hostile wilderness where survival was far from certain. Indeed, half the settlers died during that first harsh winter. If not for the help of the indigenous people who joined them at the first Thanksgiving, they all might have died. But they were willing to risk everything for the right to be free to worship God in their own way, without the government telling them what they were and weren’t allowed to say, do or believe (is this starting to sound surprisingly relevant to today?)
Last year, I linked to an excellent op-ed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and it’s worth reading every year as a Thanksgiving tradition:
Sen. Cotton talks about not just the history and importance of the Pilgrims’ arrival and the first Thanksgiving, but an even more important legacy they bequeathed to us. It was the way they organized their settlement, codified in the Mayflower Compact, the first example of the principle of “government by the consent of the governed.” Its ideas would still reverberate more than a century-and-a-half later when it became a huge influence on the writing of the US Constitution (although today’s leaders definitely need a sharp reminder that they are in power only thanks to the “consent of the governed.” The 2022 elections weren’t sharp enough.)
Sen. Cotton writes, “In this covenant, the ship’s passengers agreed to form a ‘civil body politic’ of ‘just and equal laws’ based on the consent of the governed and dedicated to the ‘Glory of God’ and the ‘general good of the colony.’ Immediately after signing the compact, the signatories conducted a democratic election to choose their first governor.”
As he notes, it’s no wonder John Adams called the Pilgrims’ arrival “the birth-day of your nation.” These are the principles America was founded upon, and they arrived 402 years ago, in 1620. America was not founded upon slavery, which supposedly arrived in 1619 (even though some Native American tribes had long practiced forms of it, a fact I doubt is taught in current “history” classes), and which Christian abolitionists, Republicans and many of the Founders strongly opposed and we fought a bloody Civil War to end. (Another shocker for today’s “history” students: The Republican Party was specifically founded to end slavery, and it was the Democrats who fought to preserve it.)
To counter the left’s assault on America and its history, The Federalist launched “The 1620 Project.” At this link is an excerpt about the Pilgrims’ and the Puritans’ experiences and what they contributed that helped make America such an exceptional nation and a “shining city on the hill.” It’s another piece that should become a Thanksgiving tradition.
This year, while we’re thanking God for all our blessings, let’s ignore the America-hating historical revisionists and give even bigger thanks than usual for the brave men and women who bravely ventured to the New World, seeking religious freedom. Let’s also give thanks for the blessings of liberty and self-government that they secured for themselves and their posterity (that’s us.) Let’s honor their legacy by making sure that we protect and defend those rights and liberties for all so that we can hand them down intact to future generations.
And let us also ensure that our schools teach real history so that future generations won't be hoodwinked into hating their own nation, demonizing those who sacrificed so much to give them the rights and freedoms they take for granted, and giving away those rights for a mess of pottage (no, that's not a Thanksgiving dinner side dish) or a promise of absolution for the alleged sins of their great-great-great-great-grandparents.