Thursday, November 28, 2013


As we pause this week to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, it is well to recall the Pilgrims who left England so that they might practice their religion without fear of persecution.  In 1620, the Church of England was the only recognized and permitted religion in England.  Some of the Pilgrims had emigrated to Holland, where they could practice their religion, but they had difficulty in finding suitable jobs to support themselves.  They ultimately returned to England and then set sail for the New World.

The Mayflower did not land where it was intended.  However, as it was late in the year, the Pilgrims decided to remain there.  They needed a new permission, or patent, to make it legal.  So, to provide for governance until the new patent arrived, the male passengers of the Mayflower signed an agreement, later named the Mayflower Compact, for their governance.

They agreed among themselves to “Covenant and Combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony”.

It appears that the desire for self-determination in the new colony ran deep from the earliest settlers.

The Pilgrims maintained a good relationship with the Native Americans, who assisted them with food and advice as the settled in for their first winter.  The next year, 1621 the new settlers were blessed with an abundant harvest.  90 Native Americans joined with the Pilgrims for a three-day celebration of thanks.  In the 1800’s, this event became the basis for the story of the First Thanksgiving. 

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln declared a “National
day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  In 1941, Congress passed a law establishing the fourth Thursday of November as the date for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I hope all of you will be able to gather with family or friends this holiday to celebrate and reflect on our many blessings.  We should all pause to give thanks for our good fortune to have been born, or to have come, to a country of opportunity and of laws that apply to all, regardless of race, creed, color, religion, national origin or sex. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

*  *  *  *  *
Next week:  Dads and Drugs