On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued the first-ever Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring November 26, 1789 a day of Thanksgiving. While reading the entire declaration (posted below), I couldn’t help but dwell on what I’m thankful for this year.
I’m thankful for a growing family and good friends around the world. During these dangerous times, I’m grateful for their continued protection and diligent work towards making our world a safer and more secure place.
I’m thankful for our religious liberty that President Washington spoke of centuries ago. In courts from coast to coast, the ACLJ continues to fight to secure the God-given rights of every individual to live out their faith in every aspect of their lives. We continue our work on behalf of lifesaving pro-life pregnancy centers, college students denied admission because of their Christian faith, pro-life sidewalk counselors, and more.
I’m thankful for the men and women in uniform spending time away from their family and friends this Thanksgiving in order to keep our nation and those fleeing persecution around the world safe and secure. But for the sacrifice of America’s military, we would not even have the opportunity to be grateful and celebrate with our family and friends. The ACLJ has continued fighting this year for religious freedom in our Armed Forces and for brave heroes who sacrifice everything to protect our God-given rights.
I’m also thankful for our ACLJ colleagues around the world, who worked to help free two young Kenyan girls from a form of sex slavery, two Sudan Pastors from possible death sentences, and countless Pakistani Christians from false charges.
I’m thankful, like President Washington, for our Constitution. In an era in which far too many misinterpret and misrepresent the U.S. Constitution for their own political ploys, the ACLJ continues standing up for the Constitution, filing numerous briefs on behalf of Members of Congress and hundreds of thousands of Americans who believe the U.S. Constitution provides the best hope for our republic against an out-of-control government.
Finally, I’m thankful for ACLJ supporters like you, who enable us to do all the work we do. Without you, we couldn’t advocate for unborn children, persecuted Christians across the globe, Israel, Christians facing discrimination on college campuses, and so much more.
As you gather with family and friends this Thanksgiving to fellowship and reflect on what we are thankful for and the many blessings that have been bestowed on us as a nation, I encourage you to keep President Washington’s words in mind, to be grateful for the benefits we’ve received from God and to continue onward with the responsibilities God has given us to be His hands and feet to a world in need of Him.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
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