Thursday, November 23, 2006

A matter of emphasis

As I ponder the dead and the living
I get caught up syllabically sieving.
For those serving at war
Or the homeless and poor,
Is the stress on the "thanks" or the "giving?"

Our current day of celebration probably owes more to Abraham Lincoln than to the Pilgrims. His proclamation, in the midst of the Civil War, set the tone for our national day of thankfulness and the words still ring surprisingly true.


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 can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

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, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Happy Tha[ng](k)s-'gi-vi[ng]
or 'Tha[ng](k)s- gi-vi[ng]
however you choose to live it

And please take in the following food for thought on this day
A feast of the ordinary
By James Carroll, The Boston Globe, 11/20/06


Annie said...

On this day let me give thanks to you for posting that proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.

I was never a close student of history and, being such, I missed knowing before now that Thanksgiving Day was due to him. I can hardly wait to share with others what I've learned from you today.

And I hope your day was delightful.

Trace said...

I adore Lincoln! Thank you for this post. Also, where our troops are concerned, I believe the emphasis is on the giving. Will the madness ever end? I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving day...

Mags said...

Another great post. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!