Letter to the Editor,
Presidential Thanksgiving Day Proclamations
George Washington proclaimed the Thanksgiving Day words for a new nation, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the Thanksgiving Day words for a time when our nation was torn by civil war and George W. Bush proclaimed the Thanksgiving Day words in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In 1789, President George Washington, recollecting the countless blessings for which our new Nation should give thanks, declared the first National Day of Thanksgiving.
In response to a joint request by both Houses of Congress, on October 3, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, as a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
And decades later, with the Nation embroiled in a bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln revived what is now an annual tradition of issuing a presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving.
On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued his own Thanksgiving proclamation. In it, he invited a nation “in the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity” to observe November 26, 1863, “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” and to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently 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 enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Then two hundred and twelve years after the first Thanksgiving presidential proclamation President George W. Bush while in the midst of recovering from the terrible tragedies of September 11; he exhorted "Americans of every belief and heritage to give thanks to God for the many blessings we enjoy as a free, faithful, and fair-minded land."
On November 16, 2001 President George W. Bush issued his Thanksgiving proclamation during "the painful aftermath of the September 11 attacks and in the midst of our resolute war on terrorism". He explained that "during these extraordinary times, we find particular assurance from our Thanksgiving tradition, which reminds us that we, as a people and individually, always have reason to hope and trust in God, despite great adversity.”
In the Thanksgiving tradition of our nation,
Thank God for our blessings!
Marian Casillas, Ed.D.