25th Nov 2009
This year the USA ‘s Thanksgiving celebration coincides with the date first set aside by George Washington for the celebration exactly two hundred and twenty years ago.
Trees of Life series
|From its roots the harvest and thanksgiving festival shared by the Plymouth Rock community of Pilgrims (who both sought and offered religious tolerance) and Native Americans (who were so tolerant they enabled the new settlers to survive!) has been a communal expression of gratitude and religious tolerance.Perhaps George Washington’s time spent with Native Americans during the French and Indian War helped develop his tolerant views, which were radical then— and in many parts of the world remain so today.
Although much has been written and preached in America about Thanksgiving, I think nothing surpasses Washington’s initial declaration. It is the only law or decree that both brings tears to my eyes and makes me want to say, “Amen!”
So this year I am turning over my annual Thanksgiving message to my first “guest blogger” who is also the subject of the Essence Portrait I am currently creating: George Washington.
by Judy Rey Wasserman
Strokes: Exodus 20
In his first term as President, our first president made the following proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating the first official national Thanksgiving Day in the new United States of America:
“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 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, which we experienced 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 enabled 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 hath 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 unto us) and to bless them with good government, 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 prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.”
Wishing you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.
Each year Judy Rey Wasserman writes a special message at Thanksgiving. Previous messages that you will also enjoy include: Thanksgiving Choices and Thanksgiving Faith & Vision
To see a larger version of the Ten Commandments George Washington print and a close up of the details click: PRINTS