The history of the Thanksgiving holiday is facinating; the tradition of declaring days of Thanksgiving goes back to colonial days, but did not become an annual holiday until 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. Lincoln in his own words:
Since then, Thanksgiving has been observed every year in the United States.
"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 unequalled 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 had 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 consciousness 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 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 United States the eighty-eighth.
Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 3 October 1863."
And as complaining and contrary as I can be from time to time, I have much for which to be thankful
I have my parents and sister, whom I love dearly, and for some reason love me. I have all the rest of my family, who have all been much better to me than I have ever deserved. I have my good and noble friends, who I consider an honor to know, and a gift indeed to call "friend."
I have my faith and my freedom. Many good and honorable men, too many, have sacrificed and died to bring me both of those. My mind is beggared for words to express my gratitude.
How do you thank the many who have served you, the many who have given of their substance or themselves to you, many without knowing it? How do you thank them?
How do you thank a brother, who willingly took your sins upon Him, to spare you an eternity in sorrow?
How do you thank a Heavenly Father, who gave you all that you have, even sacrificing His Only Begotten Son, so you might be able to see Him and bear His presence again?
All I can do is say thanks. Thank You. And now I promise to do all I can to live a life worthy of your gifts.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And thank you.