Days of thanksgiving have been observed in America for centuries, from the early celebration by the Pilgrims to the ones we have today. Sometimes they have occurred even during times of war.
For example, following the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, in November of that year a Thanksgiving proclamation was issued, urging the people, even as war continued to give thanks for all their blessings, including…
devoutly to offer up their unfeigned Praises to Almighty God…that the lives of our officers and soldiers have been so remarkably preserved, while our enemies have fell before them…that our unnatural enemies, instead of ravaging the country with uncontrolled sway, are confined within such narrow limits, to their own mortification and distress, environed by an American Army, brave and determined.
And it was actually during the Civil War that the current tradition of our annual, national Thanksgiving was established. The 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln also encouraged Americans to give thanks that:
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign States, 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 theater of military conflict.
And during World War II, even though over 400,000 Americans lost their lives, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a Thanksgiving proclamation for November 1944 asking Americans to be thankful . . .
For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace.
The Bible tells us to “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT), and America has a long history demonstrating a conformity to this verse. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we can certainly do no less. So Happy Thanksgiving, and whatever circumstances you may be facing, don’t forget to express your gratitude to God for all of His many blessings.