This week marks our oldest of traditions, Thanksgiving.
I am representative Rick Mason of Lisbon and I want to offer a heartfeltHappy Thanksgiving.
As Mainers and as Americans, we have so much to be thankful for. We are truly lucky to be here in the best state and in the greatest country in the history of the world.
With all the political fervor and negativity in the world, it is important to stop and take stock of all that we have.
Now is a time to reflect on gratitude and the importance of being grateful. We are grateful for our families and friends, grateful for our liberty, and grateful for a loving God who makes it all possible.
Thanksgiving unites us all. It is older than our great republic and reminds us that our differences are not so great. In that first Thanksgiving, pilgrims seeking freedom from religious persecution came to a new land and broke bread with the native Americans that helped them to survive that first winter, giving thanks for life and the human capacity for compassion.
In 1789, then President Washington issued the first presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he recognized the need to be thankful for the mercies shown to our young country:
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.
Even during periods of great upheaval, as Americans we have paused to give thanks for all that we have. In 1863, President Lincoln issued his now famous Thanksgiving Proclamation establishing the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. The Proclamation was delivered in the midst of the American civil war.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filledwith 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… And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also… implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
While our politics may be polarized we still have so much to be thankful for as Americans.
As President Trump put it during a citizenship ceremony in the Oval Office, “As American citizens, we are bound together in love, and loyalty, friendship, and affection. We must look out for each other, care for each other, and always act in the best interests of our nation and all citizens living here today. We love each other. We’re proud of each other.”
So, as we gather to give thanks this week, let us follow Lincoln’s example and in addition to those personal blessings, let us also give thanks for this American Union.
As President Trump said at that same new citizen ceremony, “There is no higher honor or greater privilege than becoming an American citizen.” And for that we should all be thankful.
This is Representative Rick Mason thank you for listening and Happy Thanksgiving.