Thanksgiving & Veterans

By SGTMAJ James J. Schickel (Ret.), Local Interagency Network Coordinator – Veterans Services Division, CalVet/Veterans Affairs Advisor, B.R.A.I.N.

The holiday season is quickly approaching.  As most of us may know, the history of Thanksgiving began when Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered together, to celebrate a successful harvest. The first Thanksgiving was held, in the fall of 1621, sometime between September 21st and November 11th, and was a three-day feast. The Pilgrims were joined by approximately 90 of the local Wampanoag tribe, including Chief Massasoit, in celebration.

Though the current holiday of Thanksgiving was based on the 1621 feast, it did not immediately become an annual celebration or holiday.  It wasn’t until October 1777 that all 13 Colonies celebrated a day of Thanksgiving. The very first national day of Thanksgiving was held in 1789, when President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26th, to be “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer,” to especially give thanks for the opportunity to form a new nation, and the establishment of a new constitution.

On October 3rd, 1863, President Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation that declared the last Thursday, in November (based on Washington’s date), to be a day of “thanksgiving and praise.” For the first time, Thanksgiving became a national, annual holiday with a specific date.

Every November, we naturally think of “Thanksgiving,” and there is nothing wrong with that thought.  When we’re giving thanks, let’s not forget to include being thankful for all the men and women that serve; past, present and even the ones that will serve in the future.  Freedom is America’s heart and can only be retained by eternal vigilance. This has always been the price for freedom. Freedom is never free.

Veterans have given a portion of their life to military service, to uphold the freedoms and benefits of the United States of America. If you know a Veteran who will be alone on this Thanksgiving Day, invite them to join you, a family, or friends, to celebrate or accompany them to a nice Thanksgiving meal.  Most important thing to remember is that somewhere in all communities, Veterans Services Organizations, or other social groups, there is a nice Thanksgiving meal waiting to be shared with a Veteran.

God bless you all and have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones you may find yourself surrounded by.

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