Wednesday, November 27, 2013
To: Friends & Supporters
From: Gary L. Bauer
To Give Thanks
Citing Jay Leno may seem like an odd way to start off a message about Thanksgiving. The late night talk show host recently walked out of his studio and conducted a "Thanksgiving Trivia Challenge" with random folks on the street.
Leno asked simple questions like, "Where did the Pilgrims land?" "When was the first Thanksgiving celebrated?" "Which president declared Thanksgiving a national holiday?" The responses were comical and depressing.
I hope in the heartland there are millions of Americans who still know their history and the significance of this uniquely American holiday.
Thanksgiving traces its origins back to the Pilgrims -- those hardy pioneers who arrived on the shores of North America and carved a nation out of the wilderness. They came to the New World not seeking fortune, but the freedom to worship God as they wished.
Testifying to the strong religious foundation of this country, thanking God for His blessings was a routine experience in our early years. The first official National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress on November 1, 1777 in celebration of the victory against the British at the Battle of Saratoga.
In 1789, George Washington, issued a National Day of Thanksgiving proclamation, in which he wrote:
Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until in 1863. In October of that year, Abraham Lincoln issued a formal proclamation calling on the country to observe the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
As we give thanks tomorrow, take a few minutes to remind your children and grandchildren of the importance of Thanksgiving, because, odds are, they are not learning the true meaning of this historic celebration in the public schools. While many students might learn about the Mayflower, it is doubtful they are being taught about the Pilgrims' faith in divine Providence, which inspired their heroic and dangerous journey to America.
In spite of the challenges we face today, I believe all of us can be thankful to be Americans. We are still a relatively free people. And we must never forget that we are the descendants of the patriots who declared that "All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
As Carol and I celebrate Thanksgiving with our family, we wish for you and your family all of God's blessings at this special time of year. And we thank you for the continued friendship and support that make possible my work in defense of our values.
We also want to extend our warmest wishes to all our Jewish friends and supporters. As the celebration of the miracle of lights begins, I promise to continue to fight against the darkness of anti-Semitism and to work for the safety and security of America's friend and ally Israel.
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