Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity each year to dwell on the many blessings we have from God. Ever since George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, the United States of America has paused our lives, no matter what is going on, to give thanks to God for all he’s done for us.
I was recently reading President Calvin Coolidge’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1925 (read it in its entirety below) and reflecting on how our moment in U.S. history is similar and different from his.
Like President Coolidge, I am more grateful every day for the God-given rights enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. I’m thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to defend the right of every American to live out their faith in everything they do – before the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill, in the media, and across this great land.
I’m also thankful for the inherent dignity found in every single human life made in the image of God. That’s why the ACLJ continues fighting in federal court on behalf of pro-life pregnancy resource centers, college students denied admission because of their faith, and others simply serving the most vulnerable members of our society sacrificially every day to make their communities better and stronger places.
Unlike the time in which President Coolidge wrote, the world is not a safe and peaceful place right now. With jihadists and dictators flexing their muscles, committing historic evils, and threatening the lives of millions, we must be vigilant in standing up for what is right, in being a city on a hill fighting for the freedom of all. That’s why 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.
Outside of America, there are also other ACLJ colleagues fighting for human rights and against persecution. I’m thankful for my colleagues in Kenya defending girls from barbaric slavery as child brides and for my colleagues in Pakistan defending religious freedom, in addition to all the others around the world.
I’m thankful for the U.S. Constitution and the opportunity to defend it against an out-of-control government. I’m thankful for a system of government that allows its people to have a voice and provides for peaceful transition of power – a miracle compared to the rest of human history.
Finally, I’m thankful for ACLJ members like you. Without your generous support, prayers, and activism, we wouldn’t be able to advocate for unborn children, Israel, persecuted Christians around the globe, Christian and Jewish students facing discrimination on college campuses, military chaplains, and so much more.
As I gather with my family this Thanksgiving, play with my grandchildren, and pray for our nation, I hope you’ll also take a moment to reflect on how blessed we are to live in this moment in human history. God has given us so many blessings, but also so many opportunities to be His hands and feet to a world that needs Him so very much.
The season approaches when, in accordance with a long established and respected custom, a day is set apart to give thanks to Almighty God for the manifold blessings which His gracious and benevolent providence has bestowed upon us as a nation and as individuals.
We have been brought with safety and honor through another year, and, through the generosity of nature, He has blessed us with resources whose potentiality in wealth is almost incalculable; we are at peace at home and abroad; the public health is good; we have been undisturbed by pestilences or great catastrophes; our harvests and our industries have been rich in productivity; our commerce spreads over the whole world, and Labor has been well rewarded for its remunerative service.
As we have grown and prospered in material things, so also should we progress in moral and spiritual things. We are a God-fearing people who should set ourselves against evil and strive for righteousness in living, and observing the Golden Rule we should from our abundance help and serve those less fortunately placed. We should bow in gratitude to God for His many favors.
Now, Therefore, I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, do hereby set apart Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next as a day of general thanksgiving and prayer, and I recommend that on that day the people shall cease from their daily work, and in their homes or in their accustomed places of worship, devoutly give thanks to the Almighty for the many and great blessings they have received, and to seek His guidance that they may deserve a continuance of His favor.
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