Postcard from the Past – Thanksgiving Day 1912
“It should promote your feeling of thankfulness as an American citizen to remember that our country is at peace,” reads the banner of “The Wyoming Tribune” of Cheyenne in its Nov. 28, 1912 issue.
In a prominent place below the flag and banner was the following Thanksgiving message penned by the Rev. George Davidson, rector at St. Mark’s Church:
The joy of gratitude is the gift of happiness. A nation’s act of Thanksgiving to God must result in God’s gift to that nation of continued prosperity. We do well, therefore, to set aside one day out of the year for a general Thanksgiving Day. To allow the day to go by without some act of praise and thanksgiving to “Him who giveth all” is to defeat the very purpose for which the day is intended. We are patriotic or unpatriotic. We are religious or irreligious according, and we, as a nation, keep the spirit of this Thanksgiving Day.
To be good people according to our respective lights and abilities, to do right, to grow in grace, to develop character, strength and unselfishness, to love and to be loved, and as far as within us lies to promote righteousness on this earth are aspirations and ideals which are not too lofty for us as a nation. The goal they point to is really that towards which we would direct our course. Let us thank God today for the progress we as a nation have made toward this end.
If greediness and harsh exactions are the price of riches, we would rather be less rich. If self-seeking and egotism are the price of fame, we would rather continue somewhat obscure. In so far as our principles are sound and well founded, we hold them to be beyond price and would not deliberately sacrifice them for apparent advantage. Let us thank God today for all the moral stamina and courage of conviction to which the people of this nation has attained.
A nation which chooses high ideals as the goal towards which its people must struggle is wise in these preferences, for what we are after is not so much the means to buy happiness, as happiness itself, and we know that the basis of happiness is the love and contentment which flows from a clean heart and a Christian conscience. What we as a nation have reason to fear is not that we should choose the baser part, but to fear the baser part as the thin end of the wedge that in time might separate us from our ideals.
Let us be thankful, then, for all the right choices we make when we have to choose – for all the unseen influences which help us to choose aright – for whatever withholds us or diverts us from a course which is not our true course – for the Everlasting Arms which are around about us withholding us from any ideal of apparent advantage or present ease which might constrain us from a nobler destiny.
May the Good Lord bless you and yours with a pleasant and bountiful Thanksgiving! – D.P.