Reflect on official Thanksgiving proclamations

Nov. 17, 2012 @ 03:46 PM

On Sunday afternoon, November 11, following the Gatlinburg Veterans Day Program for which I served as master of ceremonies, a gentleman wearing a military logo cap came up to me, shook my hand and remarked, “I just want to thank you for the most important thing you said today.” I responded, “I appreciate that, sir... what did I say?” He answered, “God is our Supreme Commander-in-Chief!”

The veteran was right on target, and actually phrased my thought better than I did. What I said was: “Traditionally, we host this special program at 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month. This year, however, since Veterans Day is on Sunday, we are beginning our program at 2 p.m., three hours after the traditional time, because this is a great opportunity to spotlight the observance and celebration triple-fold. Number one, we honor our Veterans and all military personnel currently serving. Number two, we honor our Churches of various denominations. Number three, we pay supreme homage to God.”

And now as we now look toward Thanksgiving and think about the various people and things for which we are thankful, we would be remiss if we did not always offer supreme thanks to God, the main emphasis of the initial “proclaimed Thanksgiving Day” as we know it. Recorded history tells us Plymouth Colony’s Governor William Bradford penned a document in 1623, proclaiming “…render Thanksgiving to Almighty God for all His blessings.”

On November 26, 1789, President George Washington proclaimed, “...Whereas both Houses of Congress have requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God…”

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, “…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the Heavens...” In 1942, Congress decreed Thanksgiving Day always to be on the fourth Thursday in November.

It is very clear in many of our hearts that while we are certainly thankful for various people and things, our primary thanks go to our Supreme God. This is also very clearly stated by official American governmental proclamations.

An Internet site this week asked, “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?” When I saw it, five women had responded so far. In part, they said:

“(1) I am most thankful for my positive outlook, as it helps me to appreciate my life even during tough and dark days... (2) I’m thankful for the opportunity Thanksgiving provides each and every person to shut down the outside world for even just a few hours and to focus on what matters the most, family and friends... (3) I’m thankful for having a job that allows me to stay home with my children and husband...

“(4) Being cancer-free! I’m thankful for being in remission from an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer for four years... (5) I am most thankful that I found love this year and we are engaged to be married...”

These five responses are very commendable, and similar responses could come from many of us – all the while remembering the veteran’s words and giving primary thanks to the subject of his statement: “God is our Supreme Commander-in-Chief!”

© 2012 by Carl Mays, National Speakers Association Hall of Fame member and author, whose mentoring site is based on his “ A Strategy For Winning” book and program. Contact or view