A day to count your blessings and say thanks

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2018

It’s been a tough year. Such ugliness in our politics, such deep divides in our country. Wildfires in California, a destructive hurricane in Florida and much of the Southeast as well as destructive storms in the Northeast. Many have been left homeless by the wildfires and storms.
Mass shootings have left many homes with an empty chair at the dinner table, and hearts broken.
But as we plan to celebrate Thanksgiving we are reminded that each generation has faced challenges and found ways through them. As we take a look at the first Thanksgiving, we celebrate those who bravely fled persecution in the early 1600s to start a new life in America. Plymouth colonists and Native Americans eventually shared an autumn harvest feast, one of those defining events that led to what we now call Thanksgiving.
As we look back at history, the Pilgrims had lost half their tiny band of some 100 souls to disease during the terrible winter before. Their colony on a raw and inhospitable continent was by no means established and secure. Yet those who remained gave thanks — not merely for the mere survival but for the opportunity which the God they worshiped still offered them to build a new life in a New World for themselves and their posterity.
The United States has suffered through two world wars, a civil war, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan. And, today there is plenty to fear — terrorism, massive shootings, unrelenting racial tension, and the general coarsening of society.
However, it is not a day to look at what we do not have, nor a day to muse over the troubles in our society, but a time to give thanks and to reflect on our blessings and to remember those among us who are hurting and need help.
We as Americans enjoy abundance and opportunities, small daily conveniences and huge sweeping liberties, that would boggle the minds of most people who ever lived. We are blessed with rich resources and an immense span of land that allows us to spread out between protective oceans. We are free to travel from north to south, from east to west.
Despite all the divisions we can whip up, all the discrimination that stifles the lives of some of us, all the misbegotten things we have done to one another and the rest of the world, we are collectively and enormously blessed. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln put into words sentiments that will be familiar to many today, even if their flourish is not. They’re worth recalling on this Thanksgiving Day.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. …
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Happy Thanksgiving to our readers from the folks at the Elizabethton STAR.

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