“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” Abraham Lincoln’s gracious assessment of 1863 is immortalized in the opening line of his first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.
150 years have passed since Lincoln’s establishment of an annual, national observance of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” In 1863 that day came just one week after the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Lincoln gave his celebrated two minute address. The War Between the States would go on for another year and a half.
What prompted Lincoln to articulate such a “healthful” outlook, where many saw only servitude to gloom and despair, was an intensified appreciation for blessings and their origin. He saw “bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come.” He writes in his Thanksgiving Proclamation that these abundances are “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.”
Such an attitude as Lincoln’s serves as a timely example for all of us. Read more…