Today, The Star is offering two presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, one by John F. Kennedy in 1962, and one by William McKinley in 1899.
‘Let us renew the spirit’ By John F. Kennedy, Nov. 7, 1962
Over three centuries ago in Plymouth, on Massachusetts Bay, the Pilgrims established the custom of gathering together each year to express their gratitude to God for the preservation of their community and for the harvests their labors brought forth in the new land. Joining with their neighbors, they shared together and worshipped together in a common giving of thanks. Thanksgiving Day has ever since been part of the fabric which has united Americans with their past, with each and with the future of all mankind.
It is fitting that we observe this year our own day of thanksgiving. It is fitting that we give our thanks for the safety of our land, for the fertility of our harvests, for the strength of our liberties, for the health of our people. We do so in no spirit of self-righteousness. We recognize that we are the beneficiaries of the toil and devotion of our fathers and that we can pass their legacy on to our children only by equal toil and equal devotion. We recognize too that we live in a world of peril and change — and in so uncertain a time we are all the more grateful for the indestructible gifts of hope and love, which sustain us in adversity and inspire us to labor unceasingly for a more perfect community within this nation and around the earth.
Now, therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, in accord with the joint resolution of Congress, approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, the twenty-second day of November of this year, as a day of national thanksgiving.
I urge that all observe this day with reverence and with humility.
Let us renew the spirit of the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving, lonely in an inscrutable wilderness, facing the dark unknown with a faith borne of their dedication to God and a fortitude drawn from their sense that all men were brothers.
Let us renew that spirit by offering our thanks for uncovenanted mercies, beyond our desert or merit, and by resolving to meet the responsibilities placed upon us.
Let us renew that spirit by sharing the abundance of this day with those less fortunate, in our own land and abroad. Let us renew that spirit by seeking always to establish larger communities of brotherhood.
Let us renew that spirit by preparing our souls for the incertitudes ahead — by being always ready to confront crisis with steadfastness and achievement with grace and modesty.
Let us renew that spirit by concerting our energy and our hope with men and women everywhere that the world may move more rapidly toward the time when Thanksgiving may be a day of universal celebration.
Let us renew that spirit by expressing our acceptance of the limitations of human striving and by affirming our duty to strive nonetheless, as Providence may direct us, toward a better world for all mankind. ...
‘This honored observance’ By William McKinley, Oct. 25, 1899
A national custom dear to the heart of the people calls for the setting apart of one day in each year as an occasion of special thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings of the preceding year. This honored observance acquires with time a tender significance. It enriches domestic life. It summons under the family roof the absent children to glad reunion with those they love.
Seldom has this nation had greater cause for profound thanksgiving. No great pestilence has invaded our shores. Liberal employment waits upon labor. Abundant crops have rewarded the efforts of the husbandman. Increased comforts have come to the home. The national finances have been strengthened, and public credit has been sustained and made firmer. In all branches of industry and trade there has been an unequaled degree of prosperity, while there has been a steady gain in the moral and educational growth of our national character. Churches and schools have flourished. American patriotism has been exalted. ...
The trust which we have assumed for the people of Cuba has been faithfully advanced. There has been marked progress toward restoration of healthy industrial conditions, and under wise sanitary regulations the island has enjoyed unusual exemption from the scourge of fever. The hurricane which swept over our new possession of Puerto Rico, destroying the homes and property of the inhabitants, called forth the instant sympathy of the people of the United States, who were swift to respond with generous aid to the sufferers. ...
For these reasons and countless others, I, William McKinley, President of the United States, do hereby name Thursday, the thirtieth day of November next, as a day of general thanksgiving and prayer ... and I advise that on this day religious exercises shall be conducted in the churches or meeting places of all denominations, in order that in the social features of the day its real significance may not be lost sight of, but prayers may be offered to the Most High for a continuance of the divine guidance without which man’s efforts are vain, and for divine consolation to those whose kindred and friends have sacrificed their lives for country.