This Daily Star editorial originally appeared Nov. 27, 2002. It runs again today in honor of Thanksgiving Day.
In 1621, the Pilgrims enjoyed such a successful harvest that they decided to have a feast of thanksgiving and invite the neighbors.
Being thoughtful guests, the 90 American Indians didn’t come empty-handed. They brought five deer to add to the crops, fruit, fish and fowl at the three-day celebration.
Pilgrim Edward Winslow sounded grateful for the bounty in a letter home.
“And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty,” he wrote.
Things were pretty simple back in those days, when a “weapon of mass destruction” was a musket. If you had enough to eat, shelter from the elements and good relations with those who lived near you, you were thankful.
Of course, not all of the settlements in the New World had a lot to be thankful for. People died from disease, malnutrition, American Indian attacks and bad weather.
Today’s world is far more complex, but still dangerous.
People still die from disease, malnutrition and exposure to the elements, and while our hostile neighbors are based half a planet away, we still cannot rest easy.
With tyranny still abundant in our present-day world and the engines of war running, we face this Thanksgiving with a mixture of trepidation and hope — just like in the past.
Was a Pilgrim mother more at ease at the first Thanksgiving when she watched her child sleep than a present-day mom who knows that all the food and medicine she could want is as close as the local supermarket and drugstore?
As we settle in to eat our turkey and watch football games on televisions in our climate-controlled homes, are we as grateful as those Pilgrims in their drafty cabins lit only by firelight?
Probably not. Like the Pilgrims, we live in uncertain times with our fates and those of our children not entirely in our own hands. But there is much for which we should be thankful.
As we look around the world, we see governments that regard freedom as an enemy. For all our faults, ours is a free country. We can disagree with our government and raise a ruckus about it if we choose. That alone makes us worthy beneficiaries of the Pilgrims’ hopes, dreams and aspirations.
We set aside one day each year to give thanks for what we have, which is quite a lot. We’re not only talking about our prodigious food production, but also our freedoms.
Edward Winslow’s wish is ours for the rest of the world as we give thanks this year: “We often wish you partakers of our plenty.”