Thanksgiving Through the Years

George Washington was first in war, first in peace, and in November 1789, the first president to proclaim a national day of thanksgiving, openly acknowledging “God” as the source of all “the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

Among the “favors” were a Declaration of Independence that inspires us to the present day, a remarkable military victory over the most powerful nation in the world, and an ingenious Constitution of checks and balances that places “we the people” at the center of our government.

For the next fourscore and seven years, most states honored a November date as a day of prayer and fasting, but there was no national celebration. Of the early presidents, only James Madison, in 1814 and 1815, issued proclamations.

Then in November 1863, with the Civil War still raging, President Abraham Lincoln officially declared the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving. Echoing Washington, Lincoln asked Americans to “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 employment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”

“God” heard the people’s prayers for an end to war and the preservation of the Union.

Succeeding presidents issued proclamations in the same providential spirit of Lincoln and Washington, freely thanking “God” for His favors and benefits. In 1904, for example, President Theodore Roosevelt said that “the time has come [again] when a special day shall be set apart in which to thank “Him,” who holds all nations in the hollow of “His Hand,” for the mercies thus vouchsafed to us.”

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge said that Americans should “devoutly give thanks to the “Almighty” for the many and great blessings they have received, to seek “His Guidance” that they may receive a continuance of His Favor.”

However, with the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the coming of secular progressivism, “God” was given an increasingly secondary role while the “civic spirit” of America was extolled. “May we on Thanksgiving Day and on every day,” said FDR in the middle of World War II, careful not to use the “G” word, “express our gratitude and zealously devote ourselves to our duties as individuals and as a nation.”

As he did in so many ways, President Ronald Reagan broke sharply with the progressives, taking inspiration from Washington and Lincoln and reemphasizing the religious character of Thanksgiving. Quoting the 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation, Reagan said that “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.” Reagan went on: “God has blessed America and her people, and it is appropriate we recognize this bounty.”

Thanksgiving has always been rooted in the notion, that as a nation, our entire prosperity, security, and liberty is completely dependent upon “God’s” providence. So on this Thanksgiving Day in the year of our “Lord” two thousand sixteen, let us give thanks and thanks and ever thanks to “God” who gives us life, liberty, and happiness.

On November 8th, 4 newly endorsed Combat Veterans For Congress—-SSgt Brian Mast, USA (Ret) (EDO) (R-FL-18) who is a double amputee Wounded Warrior, BGen Don Bacon, USAF (Ret) (R-NE-2), Cpt Michael Gallagher, USMCR (R-WI-8) PhD, and Lt James Banks, USN (Ret)(R-IN-3) were elected; 17 elected Combat Veterans For Congress were re-elected.

Two elected Combat Veterans For Congress retired after long and faithful service in the US Armed Forces and in subsequent service to the Republic in Congress——Cong Chris Gibson, Col-USA (Ret) (R-NY-20) and Cong John Kline, Col-USMC (Ret) (R MN-2); we wish them fair winds and a following sea.

Two elected Combat Veterans For Congress were defeated running for the US Senate—Senator Mark Kirk, Cdr-USNR, (R-IL-Senate), and Cong Joe Heck, MD, BGen-USAR (MC) (R-NV-3); we wish them fair winds and a following sea.

The attachment lists the 21 endorsed Combat Veterans For Congress who will be serving in the 115th Congress in 2017.  Over the previous years, 32 endorsed Combat Veterans For Congress have served in Congress (3 Senators and 29 Congressmen).

The Endorsee of PAC page of the Web site lists over 500 well know and famous Americans who have endorsed the Combat Veterans For Congress PAC.

There is a new dawn in America, and “God” continues to bless America.  We are very Thankful for the Republic created by the Founding Fathers, for the US Constitution, The Free Enterprise System, for all members of the US Armed Forces, and especially for US Military personnel serving in Combat in the Middle East.

The future for America, this one nature under “God”, is very bright and hopeful!!

Joseph R. John, USNA ‘62

Capt    USN(Ret)/Former FBI

Chairman, Combat Veterans For Congress PAC

2307 Fenton Parkway, Suite 107-184

San Diego, CA 92108