Thanksgiving in words
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Nov 24, 2011 | 1820 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For most of U.S. history, American presidents have delivered proclamations each year in remembrance and honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. Several stand out both for their words and the era in which they were given.

Today, The Star is offering two presidential Thanksgiving proclamations, one by Andrew Johnson in 1867, and one by Richard Nixon in 1972.

‘Ancient ways of brotherly love’
By Andrew Johnson, Oct. 26, 1867

In conformity with a recent custom that may now be regarded as established on national consent and approval, I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby recommend to my fellow citizens that Thursday, the 28th day of November, be set apart and observed throughout the Republic as a day of national thanksgiving and praise to the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with whom are dominion and fear, who maketh peace in His high places.

Resting and refraining from secular labors on that day, let us reverently and devoutly give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the mercies and blessings with which He has crowned the now closing year. Especially let us remember that He has covered our land through all its extent with greatly needed and very abundant harvests; that He has caused industry to prosper, not only in our fields, but also in our workshops, in our mines, and in our forests. He has permitted us to multiply ships upon our lakes and rivers and upon the high seas, and at the same time to extend our iron roads to far into the secluded places of the continent as to guarantee speedy overland intercourse between the two oceans. He has inclined our hearts to turn away from domestic contentions and commotions consequent upon a distracting and desolating civil war, and to walk more and more in the ancient ways of loyalty, conciliation, and brotherly love. He has blessed the peaceful efforts with which we have established new and important commercial treaties with foreign nations, while we have at the same time strengthened our national defenses and greatly enlarged our national borders.

While thus rendering the unanimous and heartfelt tribute of national praise and thanksgiving which is so justly due to Almighty God, let us not fail to implore Him that the same divine protection and care which we have hitherto so undeservedly and yet so constantly enjoyed may be continued to our country and our people throughout all their generations forever.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 26th day of October, A.D. 1867, and of the Independence of the United States of America the ninety-second.

‘The bounty of God’
By Richard Nixon, Nov. 17, 1972

When the first settlers gathered to offer their thanks to the God who had protected them on the edge of a wilderness, they established anew on American shores a thanksgiving tradition as old as Western man himself.

From Moses at the Red Sea to Jesus preparing to feed the multitudes, the Scriptures summon us to words and deeds of gratitude, even before divine blessings are fully perceived. From Washington kneeling at Valley Forge to the prayer of an astronaut circling the moon, our own history repeats that summons and proves its practicality.

Today, in an age of too much fashionable despair, the world more than ever needs to hear America’s perennial harvest message: “Take heart! Give thanks! To see clearly about us is to rejoice; and to rejoice is to worship the Father; and to worship Him is to receive more blessings still.”

At this thanksgiving time, our country can look back with special gratitude across the events of a year which has brought more progress toward lasting peace than any other year for a generation past; and we can look forward with trust in Divine Providence toward the opportunities which peace will bring.

Truly our cup runs over with the bounty of God — our lives, our liberties, and our loved ones; our worldly goods and our spiritual heritage; the beauty of our land, the breadth of our horizons, and the promise of peace that crowns it all. For all of this, let us now humbly give thanks.

Now, therefore, I, Richard Nixon, President of the United States of America, in consonance with Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code designating the fourth Thursday of November in each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 1972, as a day of national thanksgiving. I call upon all Americans to assemble in homes and places of worship on this day, to join in offering gratitude for the countless blessings our people enjoy, and to embrace the elderly and less fortunate as special celebrants in the day’s events, loving them as we have been loved.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-seventh.
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