Bob Hope spent many holidays away from his home entertaining the troops, and in this 1950 Thanksgiving message he reminds us of those who stand guard over our nation and often eat their Thanksgiving turkey far from home as a result. God bless and keep them and their families.
Hope had already been to Korea to entertain the troops, even beating the Marines ashore at Wonsan on the east coast of North Korea! He would be back to entertain the troops again, continuing his tradition of service that would stretch a half century from World War II to Desert Storm. Hope was a comedic genius, in his prime perhaps the greatest American stand up comedian. However, what I remember him for is the true patriotism that caused him, whether a war was popular or unpopular, to endure discomfort and danger to bring a smile to Americans far from home serving their country. He was born in England, but he might as well have been born in the heart of America on the Fourth of July. Continue reading
Two hundred and twenty-six years ago today our nation observed its first Thanksgiving under the Constitution.
The Father of Our Country’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:
After General Douglas MacArthur, over his fiery objections, was ordered to leave Bataan during the Japanese conquest of the Philippines, Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright was left in command, putting up a heroic fight until forced to surrender his starving, diseased ridden force. Wainwright was the only American general to be captured by the Japanese and he endured the hell on earth that was Japanese prison camps, where some 37% of Allied prisoners died of starvation and the brutality of their captors. Wainwright insisted on sharing the privation of his men, and risked his life many times to intervene on behalf of his fellow prisoners with their captors.
After he was liberated, he was a walking skeleton. Douglas MacArthur gave him the signal honor of featuring prominently in the surrender ceremony by which Imperial Japan capitulated.
After he returned home he was promoted to four star rank and retired to a successful business career. He received the Medal of Honor as a tribute to the heroic leadership he displayed during the battle for Bataan. In the fall of 1945 he wrote the following Thanksgiving Prayer: Continue reading
After the American Revolution, former American officers in that struggle created a fraternal organization called the Society of Cinncinatus, named after the Roman consul and dictator, a constitutional office of the Roman Republic in emergencies, who saved Rome through his efforts in the fifth century BC and then retired to his humble farm. The Society selected as its symbol a bald eagle. In a letter to his daughter Sally Bache on January 26, 1784, no doubt with his tongue placed firmly in his cheek, Dr. Franklin indicated that he thought another bird would have been a better choice.
Others object to the Bald Eagle, as looking too much like a Dindon, or Turkey. For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perch’d on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping and Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country, tho’ exactly fit for that Order of Knights which the French call Chevaliers d’Industrie. I am on this account not displeas’d that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America. Eagles have been found in all Countries, but the Turkey was peculiar to ours, the first of the Species seen in Europe being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and serv’d up at the Wedding Table of Charles the ninth. He is besides, tho’ a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on. Continue reading
A Thanksgiving thought in 1952 from master comedian Red Skelton. Born into deep poverty, his father dying two months before his birth, he went to work at the age of 7 to help his family. Life dealt Skelton some tough cards at the beginning of his life, and the worst thing that could happen to any parent, the death of a child, lay in his future. Yet throughout his life Skelton retained a deep faith in God and an abiding love for his country. He approached life with optimism and a thankful heart, a good message for any Thanksgiving. Below is his classic Pledge of Allegiance skit. Continue reading
Andrew Johnson kept up the precedent of his predecessor in making a Thanksgiving Proclamation. However for some reason he set the date on December 7, the only time Thanksgiving has been celebrated on that date. His other Thanksgiving Proclamations were for the last Thursday in November and the tradition held until the Great Depression when FDR altered it to the fourth Thursday in November. If Johnson had established a new tradition in 1865, then seventy-six years later Americans would have had another reason to be enraged by the Japanese sneak attack. Here is the text of the Proclamation: Continue reading
Something for the weekend. Turkey in the Straw seems appropriate for the weekend before Thanksgiving. The spirited rendition above is by the Skillet Lickers, a Georgia band of the twenties and thirties of the last century. Part time musicians, they made up in enthusiasm and faithfulness to the traditional music they played, what they may have lacked in technical skill.
Thanksgiving 1944 saw Americans fighting around the globe, with their families back home praying for their safety. FDR recognized this with his 1944 Thanksgiving Proclamation:
By the President of the United States of America
In this year of liberation, which has seen so many millions freed from tyrannical rule, it is fitting that we give thanks with special fervor to our Heavenly Father for the mercies we have received individually and as a nation and for the blessings He has restored, through the victories of our arms and those of our allies, to His children in other lands.
For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace, we should lift up our hearts in thanksgiving.
For the harvest that has sustained us and, in its fullness, brought succor to other peoples; for the bounty of our soil, which has produced the sinews of war for the protection of our liberties; and for a multitude of private blessings, known only in our hearts, we should give united thanks to God.
To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.
Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby proclaim Thursday the twenty-third day of November 1944 a day of national thanksgiving; and I call upon the people of the United States to observe it by bending every effort to hasten the day of final victory and by offering to God our devout gratitude for His goodness to us and to our fellow men.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
DONE at the City of Washington this first day of November in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-four and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-ninth.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
5And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, 6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented. 7And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. 8And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. 9For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. 11And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: 12But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Matthew 8: 5-13
The American Catholic extends our heartfelt thanks to members of our military who are spending Thanksgiving far from home. It is our prayer that you have a joyous day and that you return safely to your family and friends.
By the President of the United States of America
It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions: Continue reading
From Of Plymouth Plantation, by Governor William Bradford:
All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. Continue reading
As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and as we recall our blessings and thank God for each and every one, let us also remember the humble turkey and the various disasters that result when that proud bird is not treated with the care that it deserves, dead or alive. Oldtimers like myself will recognize the above video as part of the famous “Turkey Drop” episode from WKRP, a sitcom from the Seventies.
Of course Turkey Disasters are not, unfortunately, restricted to the realm of fiction. Deep frying a turkey poses various risks.
Here we have a case of the flaming avian:
William Shatner warns of the dangers of deep frying turkeys:
Of course there are those among us who revel in the destructive possibilities of cooking turkey.
If deep fry a turkey you must, follow these tips: Continue reading
Americans used to have the quaint custom of not putting out Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. That custom seemed to bode ill for the American economy in 1939 with Thanksgiving falling on November 30. President Lincoln had established the custom of Americans nationally thanking God for His blessings on the last Thursday in November. Now another president was going to make a change in this custom.
1939 was a lackluster year for the American economy, and President Roosevelt made the decision in August that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday instead, November 23. Polls indicated that a majority of the American people opposed the change with Republicans most opposed.
Twenty three states used the new date, twenty two states used the old date, and three states had holidays on both dates. The confusion this caused was fodder for comedians with Curly in a Three Stooges short No Census, No Feeling, remarks on the Fourth of July being in October. When Moe is incredulous, Curly responds, “You never can tell. Look what they did to Thanksgiving!” Continue reading
Once more upon the plains of Manassas have our armies been blessed by the Lord of Hosts with a triumph over our enemies. It is my privilege to invite you once more to His footstool, not now in the garb of fasting and sorrow, but with joy and gladness, to render thanks for the great mercies received at His hand. A few months since, and our enemies poured forth their invading legions upon our soil. They laid waste our fields, polluted our altars and violated the sanctity of our homes. Around our capital they gathered their forces, and with boastful threats, claimed it as already their prize. The brave troops which rallied to its defense have extinguished these vain hopes, and, under the guidance of the same almighty hand, have scattered our enemies and driven them back in dismay. Uniting these defeated forces and the various armies which had been ravaging our coasts with the army of invasion in Northern Virginia, our enemies have renewed their attempt to subjugate us at the very place where their first effort was defeated, and the vengeance of retributive justice has overtaken the entire host in a second and complete overthrow.
To this signal success accorded to our arms in the East has been graciously added another equally brilliant in the West. On the very day on which our forces were led to victory on the Plains of Manassas, in Virginia, the same Almighty arm assisted us to overcome our enemies at Richmond, in Kentucky. Thus, at one and the same time, have two great hostile armies been stricken down, and the wicked designs of their armies been set at naught.
In such circumstances, it is meet and right that, as a people, we should bow down in adoring thankfulness to that gracious God who has been our bulwark and defense, and to offer unto him the tribute of thanksgiving and praise. In his hand is the issue of all events, and to him should we, in an especial manner, ascribe the honor of this great deliverance. Continue reading