First Thanksgiving - 1621

“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 tranquillity, 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.”

In often acknowledging the “providence of almighty God”, our founding fathers left to posterity, a literal mountain of quoted words that recognized the guiding hand of God upon our nation.

The faith of their convictions came straight from the Judeo-Christian Bible. From 1620, until the  creation of public schools mid-eighteenth century,  Colonial children and later, American children  were taught at home or in church schools. Although, it is a little known fact today, the Bible was the child’s first elementary reader for the more than 200 years, before McGuffey’s Reader, written in 1836 came into use.  Between 1836 and 1960, 120 million copies were sold.  But most American children still continued to be instructed from the Bible, in church, at home, and in public schools.

Certainly, it is sobering that those earlier generations of America’s children knew God’s word better than is typical of today’s adults. By the words from the Good Book, those earlier Americans were sustained through perilous times. This made them a law abiding, God fearing, undivided, industrious people, and made our country great and good.  Other religions were  welcomed to our shores and  benefited as well by the generosity of the Christian mind.  Back then, no one would have dared to publicly attack the Christianity that laid the foundation for the greatness and goodness of  our country and made it a beacon to the world.

Now, our country is regressing because too many Americans have little or no comprehension of scripture, and haplessly, lack spiritual tools with which to face today’s problems that have been largely created by the secular mind. Oh, how far off track we’ve wandered since prayer was banned from public schools in 1962 by the Supreme Court. It was that court that was flipped from conservative to liberal by the only American president who ever ran for and was elected to, third and fourth terms.

In so doing, Franklin Roosevelt, who became president in 1933, ignored the sagacious words of George Washington, our first president.   In his final farwell address Washington cautioned  that more than two terms as president was reverting back to the rule of European monarchs from which our forebearers fled.  Alas for America!  Roosevelt, who died a few months into his fourth term is the only president ever to break Washington’s two-term precedent.  Because of Roosevelt we now have a court system that more and more is operating amok because of liberal judges consistently over-turning the will of local majorities as expressed at the polls.  Will the Supreme Court overrule Obamacare?  Or will the secular mind egregiously rule against the Constitution that the  conservative court of Roosevelt’s first term, judiciously protected?

Roosevelt’s Supreme Court prayer ban altered America’s course in history. With the Bible no longer allowed in public schools, each generation raised, since, has become more secular than the one before. This explains why the occupiers are content to spend their days contributing in public to the downfall of our once great country. They can’t roll up their sleeves and be constructive, because they don’t know how.  Their anger is amiss — as long as it is not  directed towards the liberal politicians and judges — who are complying with the long cherished anti-Christian goal of remaking America into an atheist country.

The misguided efforts of secularists – when completed – will cause to be removed, the restraining force from the law of our land, which many believe will occur when God’s obedient followers (the one true church) are removed instaneously from the world, and transposed to a far better realm for safe keeping, during the seven terrible years of tribulation that will end life on earth as has been known for six thousand years.  As Biblically prophesied (hundreds of times throughout the Bible) most end time prophecies have already occurred just as prophesied, with many now swiftly playing out on world stage), triggered by a maniacal mind that is determined not to relinquish its ill gained lock on the American psyche. Of course, those who have not read and studied the Bible in depth, haven’t a clue of what lies ahead.

How can the wise not bemoan that the awesome knowledge of the Bible continues to be stolen from so many young minds? Just think of how God’s eternal presence has been lessened in the mind’s of those unschooled in scripture! No longer do Court House lawns display the Ten Commandments that school children could once recite, that made Americans want to be good. Essential knowledge has been taken out of public domain, and the entire country suffers.

Today, from many of our leaders, we hear disingenuous, vacuous words rift with distortions, and void of fairness for conservatives.  The liberal words fall far short of the preemience that once rang in the halls of Congress when Godly words sustained Americans through perilous times.  Today, those leaders rely not upon God, but upon limited suppositions common to scripturally, unschooled minds.

Of secular importance, much to do was made this week, over sparing  two turkeys slated for the White House table.  Did anyone hear of any Thanksgiving Proclamation from the president?

Vocabulary words are, again, high lighted and left to be looked up in the dictionary by those desiring  the definitions.

Today’s post will end with some famous, prayerful words of  greats and unknowns from the past.  Remember, that it is in loving and embracing such words through which comes the real power of prayer.


“May the grace of Christ our Saviour,

And  the Father’s boundless love,

With the Holy Spirit’s favour,

Rest upon us from above.”

—John Newton


“The grace of God the Father and the peace of

our Lord Jesus Christ, through the fellowship

 of the Holy Spirit, dwell with us for ever.”

—John Calvin


“Go forth into the world in peace;

be of good courage;

hold fast that which is good;

render to no man evil for evil;

strengthen the fainthearted;

support the weak’ help the afflicted’ honour all men;

love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the

Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be

upon you, and remain with you for ever.”

—The Proposed Prayer Book, 1928


“Go in peace; and may the blessing of God

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit rest

on you and remain with you, this day

(night) and forevermore”

—Author unknown


” The Lord is not my servant, I am His. 

Let my prayers reflect this.”

—Author unknown


“Lord, give us faith that right

makes might.”

—Abraham Lincoln


“Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties

of our callings that we may sleep in Thy

 peace and wake in Thy glory.”

—John Donne


“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts

are open, all desires known, and from whom

no secrets are his:  Cleanse the thoughts of

our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily

magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ

our Lord.  Amen.

—Book of Common Prayer”


“O God, help us not to despise or opose

what we do not understand.”

—William Penn


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy

on me, a sinner.”

—The Jesus Prayer,

“The Eastern orthodox Church teaches that

 this prayer is to be said many times regularly

during the day.”


“Lord, make me see your glory in every




“Jesus, strengthen my desire to work and

speak and think for you.”

—John Wesley

 First Thanksgiving - 1621

“And therefore, I, William Bradford

(by the grace of God to-day,

And the franchise of this good people),

governor of Plymouth, say —

Through virtue of vested power —

ye shall gather with one accord,

And hold in the month of November,

thanksgiving unto the Lord”.

—The First Thanksgiving Day, 1621, Stanza 2



Friday, November 22, 1963, began like any other day. Because it was drizzly, I wore my new, blue raincoat. As I drove to the elementary school where I was a first year teacher, I heard a peculiar flapping sound outside the door. Not until I had reached my school and parked, did I realize that part of my new raincoat belt had been caught outside. I remember the sinking feeling when I saw it wet and battered. I remember thinking, “Well, it’s done. I’m not going to think about it anymore.” That’s how my day began. The end would be a lot worse.

I remember nothing more until the afternoon recess, which I spent at my desk, grading papers. When I heard the end of recess bell, I headed for the teacher’s lounge, knowing I had just enough time to make the round and return to my classroom door in time to see my students come down the hall.

As I stepped into the empty teacher’s lounge, I saw on the table, the Ft. Wayne, Indiana newspaper. The headlines trumpeted the warm reception President and Mrs. Kennedy were enjoying in Texas. I was not a Kennedy fan. My thought was, “big deal!” Then, I checked my mail cubicle and hurried from the lounge.

On the way back, one of the second grade teachers was standing outside her classroom door, waiting for her students. As I approached, she called my name and said, “Did you hear that President Kennedy got shot?” To my mind came several political jokes from previous elections that had started with similar questions. I had fallen for both. This time, bemused, I said, “Alright, Vida, I’ll bite. What’s the punch line?” “It’s no joke,” she said. “He was shot during a parade in Dallas; that’s all I know.” After a stunned reaction, I continued on to my room.

On Fridays, following last recess, my class had religious education. The teacher for this class always took my students straight from coming in off the playground, down the steps and outside to a trailer that served as an extra classroom. On that day, however, she was late so I directed my students to take their seats where they waited with their coats on. In a few minutes she appeared at the door and motioned me out into the hall, where she apologized for being late. Then she told me she had just heard on radio that the president had died in a Dallas hospital. I was stunned and could find no words. We shared a brief moment of silence.

I did not continue to grade papers in my free time, as I normally would have done. I sat at my desk recalling how only minutes earlier, I had made the trip to the teacher’s lounge and the day had still been normal. I yearned to be back in that frame of time.  I recalled thinking, “big deal!” upon entering the lounge at seeing the headlines, and regretted allowing the thought.  I recalled my battered belt of the day’s beginning, and thought how inconsequential it now seemed.

I didn’t have the heart to tell my students that President Kennedy was shot and now dead. Nor did any of them indicate when they returned to the room that they had heard. Thus, I sent them to their buses still innocent of the world’s evil. That evening, my sister told me my niece, in first grade, had come home from her school, terrified. “Someone had killed the president”, said my niece, “and maybe was going to kill us too!”

Like most Americans, we spent the three day weekend glued to the television, immersed in the oppressive gloom that permeated our nation. By the time I’d arrived home from school, on that Friday afternoon, bit by bit, information on the assassin was rapidly pouring forth.  First – how in fleeing the scene he had killed a bystander, then a police officer by the last name of Tripett; his apprehension in a theatre; his name Lee Harvey Oswald; his alias – O. H. Lee; his date and year of birth: October 18th, 1939, which I curiously noted, made him just one day older than me.

Throughout the evening we continued to get snippets of information about Lee Harvey Oswald.  We learned he was a dissident who had once left the United States to live in Russia; that he had returned to America with a Russian wife and had since engaged in anti-American activities. As this news broke I recalled reading about Oswald leaving America for Russia, several years earlier when I was living and working in Washington, D. C. Then, we watched, over and over, in astonishment and horror as Oswald, himself, was gunned down in a Dallas police station by a Dallas night club owner named Jack Ruby.

This was not the America we had known. Television was still a new medium and that weekend, it presented gripping news scenes to the still innocent American psyche. We were mesmerized by ceremonial trappings of our fallen leader. Images were etched in our minds: long lines of mourners waiting to pass the closed casket that lay in state in the rotunda of the U S Capitol; the veiled, stoic face of Jackie Kennedy, clothed in black;  the obedient salute of the child Americans had come to know as John-John;  Jackie, at the end of a pew in a Catholic church,”genuflecting” (I learned a new word). 

I can still hear the cadenced, haunting drums as the funeral procession passed on Pennsylvania Avenue, where a few years earlier, my own feet had daily trod. I can still see the spirited horse, Black Jack, boots turned in the stirrups — as symbol of a fallen leader. I remember holding my breath as the accompanying soldier strained, intermittently, to control the rearing horse that had no rider. I shall always remember that is was a long, dismal weekend.

I heard many times afterwards, although not in recent years, people say that life was never the same afterwards, and that America lost her innocence with President Kennedy’s death. I’m not so sure about that innocence part. That we were seared by this experience is undeniable. But for American children, the seeds for loss of innocence had already been sown by enforcement of the 1962 Supreme Court decision to ban prayer in public schools.

The prayer ban began a new era in our country that continues to this day. It is the era of schools not teaching children to police themselves; it is the era of legislating immorality; the era of stepping up the pace in transforming the brave new world of our pilgrim forefathers from a Christian to a secular nation. As the old guard of WWII days continues to fade away, it is for us to conjecture: What comes next? And where do we go from here?

My memories of the above on the day John Kennedy was killed was written two decades ago. I probably would have written pretty much the same if left until today.  That’s how graphic the entire three day weekend was to me and I’m sure, was to many, many others, as well.

ocabulary words
for your children are high lighted but not listed below as in previous posts.  Have the child or children look up the words before reading the above.   To keep tedium at bay  and to not dispel the importance of developing respect for the dictionary, let several take turns finding and informing others around the table of what the words mean and how they are pronounced.  Include yourself in taking turns if you have just one child.

Don’t let yourself feel children can be too young to develop the dictionary habit.  Even if they are not yet reading, they can still absorb the importance of knowing the meaning of words, and they will learn from the experience. Check to see if there are any words not highlighted that they did not know.

The poem for this post is Walt Whitman’s, “Oh, Captain! My Captain! This poem is about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know about today, but the poem is found in high school literature books for many decades after the Civil War. I can remember my high school English teacher assigning my class to memorize one of the three verses to recite for the next day’s assignment. I chose the first verse and still remember reciting it for my teachers and classmates.   It is a good poem to recite to self or others.

Explain to the children that the use of “ship” refers to America, and “the fearful trip” refers to the Civil War. Walt Whitman lived in Washington, D. C., during the Civil War, and volunteered his service as a nurse in hospitals for wounded soldiers.

Suggestions: encourage your children to learn more about Whitman – one of America’s finest poets – and his poem, for discussion at the dinner table.



O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’s wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding;

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;

From fearful trip the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful read,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.