Let Us Give Thanks
NOVEMBER 01, 1969 by DONNA THOMPSON
Mrs. Thompson is a housewife and free-lance writer in Republic, Missouri.
Recently, in an old book, I found a dedication I would like to shout from the house-tops and blazon across the sky.1
"This Book (as a mark of gratitude for inestimable blessings enjoyed, in liberty of person, liberty of property, and liberty of opinions, to a degree never exceeded in this world) is respectfully dedicated to a beloved but bleeding country torn in pieces by factious, desperate, convulsive and ruinous struggles for power. It is likewise dedicated to those millions of human beings, who neither hold nor seek office, but who are made the instruments of those who do seek them; and who, while a foreign enemy presses at their doors, are enfeebled and kept from union, to gratify the ambition of a few men, (not one in five thousand of the whole community) who have brought to the very verge of destruction, the fairest prospect ever vouchsafed by heaven to any nation."
Today we face the same issues that our country faced more than a hundred and fifty years ago: men who are seeking power at any cost and students and others who blindly follow. They are the instruments of those who do seek, not only to possess, but to destroy as well, followers who are blind to the consequences of their own folly.
Our country has met these problems in the past and solved them through courage and faith, with a determination that the rights of the individual should prevail, and that our people should live in a land of law and order without fear. It will do it again.
On Thanksgiving Day we are supposed to stop and give thanks. Instead we think of turmoil, strife, riots, and wars. Yet in spite of all these we have much to be thankful for and should give thanks for the many good things with which our lives have been blessed.
It seems to me that we should not think about how much we have to be thankful for on a special day. Instead we should be thankful every day and every hour of our lives for the good things which are ours. We are likely to forget if we wait for a special day on which to express our thankfulness.
I imagine the Pilgrims were thankful every day that passed that first hard winter at Plymouth Rock. But they were making such a struggle for survival that we have no record that they ever stopped or of what they thought. Maybe they felt as so many people do today that they had nothing to be thankful for.
But somewhere along the line they were awakened to the fact that they had very much. They had survived a long and difficult year. They had battled through illness, death, Indian raids, hunger, and cold in a hostile land. They were alive and able to face the morrow. They were possibly giving inward thanks all along, but that first Thanksgiving Day was an outward manifestation of their inward feeling. Every day when they said their prayers, I am sure they not only asked for help from God, but thanked him as well for the things he had given them.
We are living in so much turmoil, so much strife, with so many people struggling for power, for money, for publicity, for attention of every kind that it is hard to reason clearly. There are great numbers of people who are saying we have nothing worthwhile here in the United States. There is nothing in our country that is right. It is a sad situation when, as the old saying goes, "we cannot see the forest for the trees."
But this Thanksgiving, I am increasingly aware of what I have to be thankful for. And even in these troublesome times we should not forget to give thanks to a God who is not dead, but to a God who lives.
And being thankful, I wish that everybody could read the dedication in The Olive Branch and could remember.
We should bow down in heartfelt thankfulness and "gratitude for the inestimable blessings enjoyed in liberty of person, liberty of property and liberty of opinions never exceeded in this world…."
Thanksgiving Day! Every day, let us give thanks.
1 M. Carey, The Olive Branch, or Faults on Both Sides, Federal and Democratic. A serious appeal on the necessity of mutual forgiveness and harmony. (Philadelphia : M. Carey & Son, 1814.)