Thanks Giving

Consider the ‘solemnities of the day’

November 23, 2005

Time to give thanks. The phrase summarizes the basic truth about Thanksgiving.

It’s a lot to think about, even with the time off from work most people will receive Thursday.

Some people will be working. So give thanks for the hospital employees, the police and fire personnel, the nursing home caregivers, the people who keep watch over our basic services.

And while enjoying the cornucopia upon our tables, give thanks for the endless hard work of our farmers and food producers.

Thanksgiving comes this year under the troubling aura of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a growing public debate over American foreign policy.

Be thankful for the bravery of the troops who are in harms’ way. If you are so inclined, pray for their enduring safety, and for the safety — and sanity — of the people of those anguished nations.

It places a renewed poignancy to the classic 1777 words of President George Washington on Thanksgiving Day:

“To morrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us. The General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades. And earnestly exhorts all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensibly necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day.”

Plenty to think about, indeed. The most basic act we can perform on Thanksgiving is to “attend with reverence the solemnities of the day,” even for just a moment between travels, turkey and dressing, conversations or card games on the one day we set aside as a nation to express gratitude.

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