In July 1863 the northern army won a decisive victory at Gettysburg, leaving 23,000 Union Army casualties laying scattered about the open fields of the small town in Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. An estimated 57,000 combatants from both sides were dead, wounded, or listed missing.
The epic battle at Gettysburg became the turning point of the war. Within a few months, President Abraham Lincoln would issue on October 3, 1863 the first annual Thanksgiving Day Proclamation declaring in part:
“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.”
While previous Presidents beginning with George Washington had issued similar proclamations calling for a day of public thanksgiving, it wasn’t until Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 that set aside yearly a day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November.
The American Civil War resulted in over 600,000 casualties on our native American soil. While the fight according to the antagonists was, on one side, to maintain the union of states, and the other, to exercise the right of states to secede and settle the irreconcilable conflict over preserving or abolishing the institution of slavery, it was the culmination of the long festering, open wound that metastasized and ripped the union asunder in 1860.
Abraham Lincoln persevered in focusing all his energies as President in preserving the union between the states even when it meant spilling blood of so many native sons. It took an indomitable will and terrible personal suffering on his part. But a mark of his greatness was acknowledging the benevolence and mercy of the Almighty God and the nation’s dependence on Divine Providence.
Let us remember the great President to whom we owe the preservation of the United States of America for which many paid a terrible price with the precious blood of husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers drenching American soil, that by their sacrifice the nation would be reunited and the deep divisions healed.
The following month after his Thanksgiving proclamation, Lincoln stood on the grounds of the Gettysburg battlefield and addressed the nation with what he later called his “little speech”. He called the nation to remember the dead and “resolve that these dead have not died in vain; that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.“
Lincoln biographer Benjamin Thomas expressed well the significance of Lincoln’s speech:
“Demonstrating that our nation’s strength lies in rededication to those beliefs to which it is committed at its birth, pleading for steadfastness to democratic principles as the best hope of peace, prosperity, and happiness among mankind, his appeal comes as a strong, clear call to every generation of Americans.”
Today once again we are embroiled in a terrible division in the nation magnified by the election of President Donald Trump. The mainstream media and liberal establishment are relentless and brutal in their constant attacks of Trump and his administration. It would be good to recall that newly elected President Abraham Lincoln was extremely unpopular within the Southern states but also the Northern Press especially those within the Democratic Party orbit.
Very little is written or spoken about in the liberal Press about Trump’s accomplishments in his first year in office. A brief sampling of those achievements through executive order, memoranda, other changes in policy and presidential actions would be good to remember for this commentary on Thanksgiving Day:
- Nominating and shepherding the confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court Judge, Justice Neil Gorsuch
- Expediting environmental reviews and approvals
- Hiring freeze of Federal employees
- Defunding sanctuary cities
- Withdrawing America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement
- Reinstating Reagan’s Mexico Policy, restricting funding for international organizations that provide abortion service
- Restarting two major pipeline projects
- Streamlining regulations on manufacturing, helping bring overseas factories back home
- Issuing executive memorandum requiring all new construction and repair of pipelines to use American materials and equipment
- Signing an executive order to improve border security
- Signing an executive order to ensure that immigration laws are enforced throughout the U.S.
- Directing the Secretary of Defense to review our readiness and create plans to rebuild the U.S. military
- Meeting with a range of foreign leaders including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to strengthen ties between the nations
- Proclaiming January 22 through January 28, 2017, as National School Choice Week
- Directing Immigration Enforcement Agencies to conduct stricter enforcement, increasing hiring of thousands of new agents to apprehend illegals
- Making significant tax breaks for both individuals and companies a top priority for Washington
- Revoking Obama’s federal guidelines forcing public institutions to allow transgender people access bathrooms of their choice contrary to their biological sex.
- Expanding military commanders’ targeting authorities and rolling back restrictions on military strikes in the international fight against terrorist organizations like ISIS
- Rolling back regulations targeting the coal industry
- Proposing massive cuts to federal agencies’ budgets to streamline government
Let us be thankful for the democratic republic under which we all live and enjoy our liberties and no matter where our political affiliations lie, we should be grateful that today we have a President who truly cares for America, her interests, the welfare of her people, their prosperity and safety, and the common good. May the whole nation unite to support him.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!