With Thanksgiving Day and the beginning of the holiday season less than one week away, I have been reflecting on the many things we have to be thankful for, despite the challenges and problems we face at the national, state and local level. It is important for us to remember that our nation faced even greater challenges and difficulties when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863 while our nation was in the midst of the Civil War. The following excerpt from that proclamation has always resonated with me and causes me to pause and count our many blessings:
“I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, 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.”
We should certainly be thankful for the natural beauty of Madison County, for existing and new economic and employment opportunities for our citizens, for our public school systems who do such a wonderful job educating our children. We should have gratitude for our two institutions of higher learning that enrich our county and cities. We should remember and appreciate the men and women who came before us and who made our county what it is today. We have so many other things to be thankful for, but most of all, we should be thankful for our families and friends, who sustain us in good times and bad.
In addition to giving thanks, we should also heed President Lincoln’s call for pursuing “peace, harmony, tranquility, and union” in all aspects of our lives. It is my hope that we will all resolve to do our part to make our cities, county, state, and nation better places four our generations and the generations to come: It takes all of us.
As we celebrate the holidays, let us reflect upon and find strength in the joy, hope and renewal of the season.