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Giving thanks

Festina lente (make haste, slowly). Pause, then, to read Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation” below. In our frenzy over turkey, traffic and pies, it’s all too easy to lose sight of today’s significance.

As editorial cartoons on this page aver, Thanksgiving Day has arrived — that special Thursday when, at a point beyond turkey and football, we pause in gratitude for the blessings of this life, even as we ask how best to share our bounty.

No one can tell another how to experience or express gratitude. It’s something which must manifest itself naturally.

Thanksgiving events and observations offer numerous possibilities for individuals and groups to participate in the spirit of the holiday. From devotional services to indispensable work of local soup kitchens, food pantries and numerous charitable organizations, needs of humanity are being met on many fundamental levels: Feeding and sheltering those less fortunate remain high on priority lists. To all who unselfishly give that which they have and share what’s possible, a word of appreciation is deserved.

There are other needs, too. Some people suffer (often in silence) from loneliness, depression, fear or despair. Perhaps they’re alone — without friends and family — or isolated from society’s mainstream (think of those, for example, serving in the military, away from home, or others confined to nursing homes and hospitals). Consider, too, those facing serious health issues or lack of employment amidst a languishing economy.

Each of these, and more, affords opportunities for us to reach out beyond immediate circles and interact with those who’d appreciate a kind word, gift or good deed bestowed.

While every day of the calendar year day affords possibilities for acts of kindness and caring, Thanksgiving should compel all to look into faces of strangers — to search for the resident good. Consider spending time with those infirmed, or pay a visit to a shut-in person. Maybe you’d like to send a box of goodies and a handwritten letter to someone serving in America’s armed forces. There’s also a need to express thanks, in myriad ways, to those with whom we live, work and interact on a regular basis. Are individuals taken for granted? Could any ice which exists in relations be thawed with a touch of holiday cheer? (When we are the central sun of our own universe, it’s difficult to receive light and human warmth from those in orbit.)

We offer best wishes to all readers for a very happy Thanksgiving — one which extends beyond TV, football and table traditions.

And now, a word from President Lincoln:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with 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 unequaled 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; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently 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, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State



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