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  • Louis Venters

The Origins of Thanksgiving: "To Heal the Wounds of the Nation"

It's really not about Pilgrims and Indians, y'all. Especially this year, with Natives from all over the continent suffering such brutality in North Dakota, the elementary school version of Thanksgiving just comes across as rank nonsense, doesn't it?

Rather, Lincoln in the depths of the Civil War is where it's at.

In his 1863 proclamation of a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," Lincoln called Americans to gratitude, humility, and empathy. He said that "with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience," they should pray for all sufferers in the war 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, tranquillity and Union."

To say the least, these are still wise counsels today. I for one am thankful for the outcome of that war, and for all those Americans, high and low, in every generation since then who have given their lives and substance to make this country more just and more beautiful. I pray that I may follow their example.

What are the tasks of the present generation to "heal the wounds of the nation"? What are the "Divine purposes" at work today? Where do I stand in the long march toward justice and peace? Where do you stand?

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