Why Will You Be Thankful This Thursday?

The Four Freedoms and Thanksgiving Day

Rockwell’s “Freedom of Speech”


Thanksgiving Day is an American and Canadian tradition, but many of us just don’t remember why we go to Grandma’s house, over eat and then fall asleep watching football on TV.  That the Pilgrims had a bountiful harvest after their first year on these shores, is the reason, or so we were told as school kids.  When you think about it, though, that’s probably not a good enough reason to still celebrate that long ago “bringing in the sheaves,” unless your a Pilgrim, that is.

So, why will you be thankful this Thursday?  It has to be more than that great stuffing Grandma makes every year, doesn’t it?  Or maybe not?  When you think about all the things you take for granted, all the things that have just always been,  then you’ll perhaps realize that you are truly fortunate to be able to celebrate this day every year.

Here in the United States a Thanksgiving Day was first declared to be a national holiday by George Washington in 1789.  Over the years, various days in November were declared to be this special day of celebration.  In 1941, only after President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law establishing the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day did we all actually have a truly nation-wide day off of work.

Getting back to why will you be thankful this Thursday, FDR in his 1941 State of the Union speech stated in so few words a succinct explanation of why you are and should always be thankful.  In what has become known as his “The Four Freedoms Speech,” Roosevelt in those short sentences spoke the words that still resonate today.  Words of why we all should be thankful.

Roosevelt signing the law

Roosevelt signs the law

Not just here in the United States, but everywhere in the world, Roosevelt said, people should enjoy the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear.  These thought provoking ideas, expressed almost 75 years ago,  still have meaning today.  So, if somebody asks you why will you be thankful this Thursday,  just remember those words, then have some more turkey and gravy.

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