I have to say that this is my favorite holiday (Note that this is a contraction of the term holy day). I like it because there isn't the pressure of providing gifts, no need to set up a bunch of garish and cartoonish decorations. (OK, some folks do put up cartoonish turkeys and Pilgrims, but it's not a cultural 'requirement' like Christmas.) It's a day to share time and a hearty meal with (hopefully) those you love to be with. Most of all it should be a day to remember from Whom all your personal blessings come from, and Who can also take it back in a literal heartbeat when He's given you enough rope.
For those who may not be aware of some of the essential Thanksgiving lore (no thanks to the public school system), allow me to offer a few tidbits, and hope you'll investigate further into the basics of our distinctively American culture and help fight off the encroaching cultural illiteracy we are surrounded by in this generation.
- The Pilgrims -- originally called Separatists -- came to the New World to escape religious persecution. King James severely punished any who turned away from the Anglican Church (aka Church of England). With them were also other less-religious settlers whom they generally got along with.
- The Pilgrims were originally bound for Virginia, but were drawn by weather and sea conditions to the Massachusetts coastal area they called Plymouth.
- The Mayflower Compact (voted on and ratified by the settlers before they landed) is considered the first documentation of self-government for the American people, and was the precursor for the Constitution. It was a solemn covenant which stated the purpose for their exodus from their native land ("In ye name of God, Amen. We...having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith...")
- Because they arrived at Plymouth in December, the settlers were ill-prepared for this new and harsh environment. Nearly half the settlers died during that first winter (1620). The Pilgrims (a biblical term for a sojourner; someone seeking a new homeland) generally got along well with the native Wampanoag tribe, thanks mainly to an Indian named Squanto, who had been to England with previous trappers and fishermen and had learned to speak English. (Imagine the 'coincidence'!) With his and the other Indians help they got through the first winter, teaching them to plant crops and hunt game.
- By springtime the colony was establishing a foothold, having built homes and planted crops. Governor William Bradford called for a celebration to offer thanksgiving to God, following the biblical example in Deut. 26:10 ("I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me."). They welcomed the Indians to their 3-day celebration.
- The Pilgrims originally tried a socialistic approach, but it failed because it removed incentive and put the colony in danger of starvation. When they switched to the principle of private property and basic capitalism, the colony flourished.
As you enjoy your own feast, please take the time to appreciate all that came before, preparing the way for your own bounty and freedom. Remember that we rarely get back what we willingly surrender. And remember, especially, to thank God for all you have, and for all the bad things that haven't happened to you.
Learn more about the holiday at http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=17984
Now for a less appealing aspect to the holiday.
I have long been a supporter of President Bush, but when he's wrong, I won't hesitate to call him on it (let's see if liberals have as much intellectual honesty).
Today, President Bush "pardoned" two turkeys, saving them from ignominously feeding at least a few humans. Meanwhile, two decorated former US Border Patrolmen --Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean -- sit in federal prison, one in solitary confinement and the other having been beaten by other prisoners. Their crime? doing their duty to protect our border and put criminals away.
Instead of celebrating America's bounty in freedom with their families, they languish as two of America's political prisoners. They were persecuted at the express direction of the Bush Administration, and every sort of chicanery and government resource was used to secure their convictions. The jury was misled into believing they had to come to a unanimous vote, even though at least some jurors wanted to acquit them. The federal prosecutor withheld facts about the drug smuggler Aldrete-Davila. In fact, the feds searched for him in Mexico to convince the guy to come back as a witness for the prosecution! Head prosecutor Johnny Sutton even gave the dirtbag a 'get out of jail free' card and paid all his expenses, including a first-class stay at the hospital (on the taxpayer's tab) while being treated for his butt-wound. Aldrete-Davila thanked the US taxpayer by being caught again for smuggling hundreds of pounds of drugs.
To add further injury, while the officers sit in their cells, their families face immense fines even upon their release. The vindictiveness of this crime against America's defenders should not be allowed to be forgotten.
If you've got a little free time to spare, consider dropping a line to the White House and your representatives urging the President to display at least as much mercy toward Ramos and Compean as he did for two turkeys.
As you celebrate Thanksgiving, keep in mind what your government is capable of doing to anyone - including you - if for some unexpected reason you should get in its way. Apparently, it doesn't even matter if you're one of the good guys.
Find out more at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/may/15/pardon-ramos-and-compean/ and http://ramos-compean.blogspot.com/