More than four centuries ago, a group of English men and women celebrated their first successful harvest in a new world with the Native Americans who played a significant role in making it possible.
Just a year before, the Pilgrims set sail from England, enduring a treacherous 66-day voyage across the ocean to build a new home. Little is known about the exact details of their ship, the Mayflower, but it was likely a type of sailing ship known as a carrack, approximately 100 feet long and 25 feet wide, and made entirely of wood. However, we do know they came to America with few resources but guided by two enduring principles – courage and faith. Those principles are woven into the very fabric of our great nation today. Their perseverance through unimaginably trying times allows us the freedoms we enjoy today.
We must keep the spirit of giving thanks that the Pilgrims had in 1621 in our hearts today. As we gather together with our families in our homes this year, it is important we take the time to reflect and give thanks for our many blessings we have received over the past year. Perhaps no day invites as much personal reflection as Thanksgiving does.
Over the years, Thanksgiving evolved. In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation marking a national day of thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in founding the new nation as well as crafting our guiding document, the constitution. The proclamation notes, “that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation…”
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday – a day of giving thanks in the midst of a war that divided our nation and many Kentucky families. The words of Lincoln’s proclamation are fitting even today, as they remind us that there is always something to be grateful for, “The year that is drawing towards 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 cannot 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 unequalled 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 theatre of military conflict…”
Today, Thanksgiving stands as a symbol of gratitude, family, and celebration. As we celebrate, let’s honor the history that brings us together. This Thanksgiving, let us remember the pioneers and patriots that courageously came before us to make a life in a new world. Let us be grateful for our military for defending our great country, and their acts of heroism and sacrifice that keep us safe. We also thank our neighbors who serve fellow Kentuckians in need of a helping hand, and those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities.
Among the things I am thankful for are the men and women of this district who entrust me to represent the values and priorities in Frankfort. I am honored to represent our community and ever so thankful for the input on topics we are considering. The state legislature is committed to Kentucky and to building a path to a better life for Kentuckians. Over the past six years, we have seen the policies we enacted result in some of the largest economic development projects in Kentucky’s history, we passed legislation that will leave money in the pockets of those who earned by taking the first steps towards eliminating our individual income tax, and we invested record dollars in education, high speed internet expansion, upgrading aging and inadequate water lines, and building and maintaining roads.
We are far from finished, but we have made progress and for that I am grateful. As I look back on this past year, I am filled, as I hope you are, with a profound sense of gratitude for what Kentucky has accomplished. I would once again like to wish you and your cherished loved ones the very best Thanksgiving together. Thank you, and God bless you.
Steve Rawlings is a state representative serving District 66 — part of Boone County. He lives in Burlington.
Source: NKY Tribune