Each year, we like to reflect on the origin of the first official national day of Thanksgiving, proclaimed at a time when the Civil War had torn this nation asunder.
According to history.com, Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer perhaps best known for penning the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," launched the campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1827. It wasn't until 36 years later, however, at the height of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation declaring the holiday.
By all accounts, the official proclamation was penned by Secretary of State William Seward.
A few excerpts from Proclamation 106 of Oct. 3, 1863, are worth noting, especially today:
"The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. ...
"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. ...
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. 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."
May your Thanksgiving Day be one of harmony and healing, good meals, and hope for what the future holds for our country.