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November 26, 2013


Unlike Christmas, Easter (via lunar metrics) and other such holidays that are set in stone, Thanksgiving Day has moved around since Lincoln instituted it some 150 years ago, finally settling on the congressionally mandated 4th Thursday in November. Other non-religious holidays set in stone (so far) include Labor Day. Secular non-religious holidays set in stone forever also include July 4. Labor Day is subject to congressional fixing, but not so the Fourth of July. The Congress dare not presume to change that hallowed date nor that of Christmas lest civil commotion if not revolution ensue. We want to be secure in our flag and cross views, and no congress had better tamper with them. Apparently celebrations of Columbus Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and other such holidays free of flag and cross are vulnerable to congressional invasion.

Generally this season calls for us to recite the things for which we are thankful, which coincides nicely with the harvest season and is associated with early English settlers to America. That is a sensible connection since a good harvest meant that famine would be averted over the winter. Most of us are familiar with the biblical famines, the Irish potato famine and other such debacles in human history. Indeed Philbrick in his book Mayflower tells us of famine and starvation among the early colonists in Massachusetts and further down the coast in Virginia. Roanoke and Jamestown were not the great places to be at the time regardless of all the fairy tales we have heard about such English settlements in America. Times were brutal and very dependent upon occasional ships from Britain for survival. Indians were sometimes helpful and sometimes enemies. Miles Standish and Priscilla make for nice movies, but the script writers have taken great license in describing a society that never existed. One must first eat.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving, 2013. We now have ample food in this country and refrigeration, canning and other means of preserving food for winter that our early English settlers could only dream of having. We can now have green salad and fresh fruits and other scurvy and beri-beri fighters in our diet from Florida, California, Central America and elsewhere that were unavailable to our progenitors in Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay areas. We have the previously unknown ability to have plenty of nutritious foods available year-round, but, unfortunately, we opt as a society to eat Big Macs and other diabetes-causing foods and drink – a continuing disastrous choice today in America – both for the individuals involved and for the viability of our national healthcare system (such as it is).

Worse still, we in this country overflowing “with milk and honey” still have famine or the threat of it to millions of American citizens. We have a political faction within the House of Representatives who have recently voted to institutionalize famine by reducing SNAP funds at the very time when poverty and hunger are increasing at accelerating rates due to other misguided policies by this same faction. They should be careful; even Pharaoh in the age of Joseph and Moses knew he must have grain for the masses or risk dethronement.

I will be thankful this holiday not for turkey and all the trimmings but rather for a different mindset and understanding among the politically powerful who are currently bringing us Jamestown Revisited, as it were. So the hungry do not deserve our largesse? Does Wall Street? Let’s feed the hungry.  GERALD  E

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One Comment
  1. Exactly 145 years ago today, The Battle of Washita River (also called Battle of the Washita or Washita Massacre) occurred on November 27, 1868 when Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s 7th U.S. Cavalry attacked Black Kettle’s Southern Cheyenne camp on the Washita River (near present day Cheyenne, Oklahoma), part of a winter encampment with a few Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche. Custer reported 103 Cheyenne men killed (deaths of the women and children were of no consequence, apparently). The soldiers also killed all of the Cheyenne’s horses after the fighting ended. Not much of a Thanksgiving season for the Indians that year, I’d say — and so soon after Lincoln had declared such a holiday!

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