No matter your walk of life or where you’re from, this Thanksgiving feels different. Scroll through Facebook, watch the news or eavesdrop on a conversation at your local coffee shop. Chances are you’ll hear, read or see someone anguishing over the state of affairs in America – whether about the election, protests, police forces, or any number of other strifes.
Our country has always had struggles, even from the very beginning. And we always will. But that doesn't mean it’s broken; it means it’s real. It means it’s not perfect. It means we’re not perfect.
It also means we can continue to work together to make it better.
About 150 years ago, our country had an even bigger struggle – the Civil War. More than 600,000 Americans died. The nation was torn in two. It wasn’t polarized. America was asunder.
War is never simple. Many factors sparked the fire beyond slavery. But regardless of the reasons the Civil War took place, regardless of who you voted for in the 2016 election, and regardless how you feel about the country today – we believe it’s important to recognize all we have to be thankful for.
We live in a country that offers so many freedoms and securities that we easily take for granted. We have a voice. We can congregate. We can talk about issues. We can work. We can get help. We can worship. We can visit wildernesses filled with incredible beauty. We can call upon police and firemen. We can read and write books. We can get an education. We can start businesses. We can start non-profit organizations. We can support non-profit organizations. We can access hospitals. We can get together with friends and family. We can do so many things that so many cannot.
That’s why today is important. That’s why it’s important to remember what we have. Even in the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called to Americans on both sides to join together in a day of thanks. In his 1863 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, President Lincoln said:
I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving…and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
If there was cause to be thankful in 1863, when war tore families apart on our own soil, then even amidst today’s friction, we can find reasons to take pause.
We hope you’ll join us and our fellow American citizens in celebrating the freedoms earned through the sacrifices of those who came before us.
Don’t lose sight that there is still good to come.