Thanksgiving Reflections Part I: Thankfulness and Remembrance

November 19, 2015

In a two-part series, Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford shares his reflections surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday.

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you. Deuteronomy 32:7

With Thanksgiving Day less than a week away, we at Liberty Institute are committed to thankfulness. But we also recognize that thankfulness requires remembrance.

We thank our volunteer attorneys, our clients, and our supporters because we remember how their involvement has made our work possible.

We thank our veterans because we remember their sacrifice to defend our freedom and our home.

We thank God because we remember what He has done for us—as a nation and as individuals.

So in the week leading up to a holiday that is so easily overshadowed by turkey, football, and commerce, let me encourage you to take a moment to remember the history behind Thanksgiving Day itself.

As Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel wrote, “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”

President George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation offers timeless wisdom for our nation’s future, and invaluable insight into our nation’s past. Read it here as you join Liberty Institute in remembrance of our heritage and thankfulness for our freedom. 

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee 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 signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– 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–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

President George Washington recognized the importance of pausing on one day, together as a nation, to offer thanks for our blessings.

These are difficult times in our nation and the world, but his sentiment written over two hundred years ago is still true today.

Even as we fight to restore religious freedom, we must take time to pause with thankfulness, realizing what a rare blessing it is to have the freedom to defend our freedom.

May your coming week be filled with remembrance and thankfulness.

Other stories:

Six Things Every Student and Teacher Should Know About Religious Freedom and the Holidays

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit

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