Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 22, 2022
A day of Thanksgiving, a quest for ‘peace, harmony, tranquility and union’

While tradition ties our Thanksgiving with a romantic tale of a 1621 fall harvest feast shared by pilgrims and indigenous people, the day didn’t become a national holiday until President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation on Oct. 3, 1863 declaring the last Thursday of November to be observed as a “day of Thanksgiving.”

Prior to Lincoln’s proclamation each state celebrated Thanksgiving as and when it pleased them. Some states celebrated Thanksgiving as early as October and others as late as January. The holiday was largely unknown in the American South.

As president, Thomas Jefferson opposed government proclamations of days of thanksgiving. He referred to fasts or days of thanksgiving as expressions of religion and saw government declaration of them to be a violation of the separation of church and state.

Lincoln’s proclamation came in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. Over 50,000 American lives, combined from both sides of the war, were laid down on the battlefield during three days of fighting. 

It was an important victory for the Union, but the staggering amount of death at Gettysburg disturbed Lincoln. 

“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …, 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 Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union,” Lincoln said in his announcement of the national day of Thanksgiving.

Today, Thanksgiving has become a day of feasting. 

For many Americans the day centers around a table full of food, family gatherings, and often a game of football on the television.

Many Tooele County residents and businesses have labored to provide a warm holiday meal to every household in the county, recognizing that not everybody has food or family. 

We offer our thanks and appreciation to those that organized and gave to these causes of their own free will.

Lincoln’s cause may not be too far distant, as recent election campaigning and news headlines make it appear that we may still be a nation unavoidably engaged in lamentable civil strife.

The full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union still elude many in our society.

As you sit down at the table on Thanksgiving day, we suggest you take time, personally and quietly, to take stock of the things for which you are grateful. And then think about how you can bring peace, harmony, tranquility and union to the lives of others.

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