By Congressman Doug Collins
On a personal level for most of us, Thanksgiving is a time when we think of sweet memories with friends and family around the dinner table, road trips to Grandma’s, or perhaps that turkey that stayed in the oven a little too long.
We also recognize that Thanksgiving is a special acknowledgement of our nation’s history. While Thanksgiving was not an annual holiday until 1863, we all learned from an early age about the 17th Century settlers at Plymouth during this time of year.
We know these pilgrims faced hardship and danger, and that the plentiful harvest of 1621 was an occasion for gratitude to God. But to be honest, it’s hard for most modern Americans to fully appreciate what these settlers endured after arriving in what is now Massachusetts on November 15, 1620.
So why would we make Thanksgiving a national holiday? I think it’s fitting because what started all the way back in the 1600s wasn’t a fast track to a happy ending. Those new settlers and Native Americans who joined together in 1621 to give thanks could never have fathomed the successes and trials that would come over the course of the next three centuries as the Republic took shape.
America has experienced deep poverty and abundant wealth. We have faced world wars and enjoyed productive peace. We should be proud that among the intangible things we value, along with freedom and liberty, are generosity and gratitude no matter the circumstance.
I know from talking to Georgians over the last year that times are tough. Some are struggling to make ends meet and provide all their families need to thrive. Others are facing difficult circumstances beyond their control. Many folks, myself included, are discouraged by the direction of our nation and wondering what kind of America we will leave our children.
This Thanksgiving, we should all remember the stories of the brave early settlers who did not let circumstances dictate their faith or resolve. These pilgrims showed courage and determination in the face of want, illness, and death itself. I don’t think the Plymouth settlers could have imagined America’s current wealth, but their efforts, along with the work and sacrifice of many other generations that came before ours, laid the groundwork for the prosperity our country has enjoyed.
We all have a responsibility to do our best and be grateful for what we have been given. Even if we don’t see the fruit of our labor right away, each of us is setting an example for the next generation. We know from history that faithful living in our homes, workplaces, and communities – even in the face of great adversity – will contribute to a brighter future for our nation.
My family and I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.