Thanksgiving brings reflections on the struggles and triumphs of the Pilgrims who held the first Thanksgiving in 1621, although people in Virginia claim a celebration in Jamestown in 1607 was the first.
That this holiday endures 392 or 406 years later, depending on one's point of view, says much about this nation's founding by British entrepreneurs as well as its religious refugees.
Americans gather together as families to reflect on the past year and to thank providence for our many blessings. Families include strangers who will dine at the First Baptist Church in downtown Charleston, 600 Shrewsbury St., for the 40th annual Frank Veltri Thanksgiving Dinner.
This year, the heavens came in alignment to make Thanksgiving the first day of Hanukkah. Perhaps that is a sign of the special need to pray.
But times have been worse. Consider Thanksgiving 1963, which fell six days after the assassination of President Kennedy. Nevertheless, the new president, Lyndon Johnson on Thanksgiving called for the Americans to pray, but also to give thanks for the bounty of that time and a system that kept a national tragedy from becoming a political crisis.
Johnson called on the nation to pursue Kennedy's ambitions.
"Let us today renew our dedication to the ideals that are American," Johnson said. "Let us pray for His divine wisdom in banishing from our land any injustice or intolerance or oppression to any of our fellow Americans whatever their opinion, whatever the color of their skins — for God made all of us, not some of us, in His image. All of us, not just some of us, are His children."
Within a year, Republicans and Democrats alike finally would come together, break the Senate filibuster and pass civil rights legislation that ended
official segregation. Under Johnson's leadership,
the nation turned an assassination into a great achievement.