Thanksgiving: Time to Reflect by Lois Bolin, Ph.D., Old Naples Historian

Thanksgiving: Renewing Our Sacred Honor

by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian

George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the United States government in 1789. In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, published the first of many editorials encouraging the celebration of the “Great American Festival.” She hoped it would be a unifying holiday to avert a civil war. Seventeen years after those editorials in the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln finally issued a Thanksgiving national proclamation on October 3, 1863, asking his fellow citizens 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.”

In the Beginning
Throughout American history, the idea of God’s connection to man is prevalent and relevant because without those shared values, the idea of a United States and its principles could not have been birthed. The genesis of Thanksgiving began when the Pilgrims, financed by the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London,
sailed to America in 1620. For weeks they were at the mercy of the gale force winds. John Howland, an indentured servant, weary from weeks below deck, decided to fill his lungs with fresh air. Before he could retreat below, a gigantic wave washed him overboard to what seemed like certain death. As he blindly struggled to surface, something brushed his arm. He grabbed hold of the topsail’s halyard and was pulled to safety wherein his relieved passage mates acknowledged his saving was by the hand of God.

The Pilgrims understood that earlier settlements failed because no governing body or principles had been established, thus the Mayflower Compact was drafted. It was the first written laws of, by and for the people – a covenant between God, man, and each other – the cornerstone for later generation’s ‘sacred honor.’

Sacred Honor’s Foundation
The Mayflower Compact served as the foundation for the Declaration of Independence, (150 years later), where five references to God can be found: …the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle… who is responsible for “the laws of nature” but God… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights… our cause was left to God as judge… with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred honor. America’s Founders placed their honor and duty ahead of their private rights and even personal survival. Their conviction is shown in the “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking up Arms,” which was approved by the Continental Congress in 1775. It stated, “We have counted the cost…and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery.”

Fast forward to the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a descendent of Howland, delivered a speech to Congress where God was referenced. He said, “…in America’s righteous might, we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”

As Allied forces prepared for the 1944 D-Day invasion, FDR delivered a prayer over the airwaves to the nation, “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day has set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

WWII Prayer Project
The WWII Memorial, dedicated to our Greatest Generation in 2004, highlighted 12 famous speeches given as America was dragged into this worldwide conflict; yet none mentioned faith even though prayer was a key part of the American way of life.

In 2011, HR 2070 proposed adding FDR’s D-Day Landing Prayer to the WWII Memorial, but the administration dismissed the request. Finally, on December 22, 2022; the D-Day Prayer was added at the Memorial’s Circle of Remembrance.

Thankful for Patriots
November is a special month where we can renew our personal “sacred honor” and give thanks for all we have.

On Saturday, November 11th, there are two Veterans Day programs you can attend: Cambier Park at 10:30 am conducted by the Collier County Veterans Council or Marco Island’s Veterans Community Park at 10:30 am followed by Thanksgiving two weeks later.

A very special thanks to CCSB member, Tim Moshier and the Patriot Readers who visit local schools (K-3) to read to the students about America and the VFW Post 7721 Auxiliary who are getting schools prepared to participate in the ‘Patriot Pen Project’ for grades 8-12.

Blessings to you and yours this November as we honor all Veterans and give thanks for all to those who fought to preserve our Republic.

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