The President asks Americans to engage in religious activity

Yesterday, the President issued his annual ThanksgivingProclamation calling the nation to thank God for His blessings. No matter what our politics may be, it is important that we highlight the Proclamation to our children and our students as an example of our nation's recognition of being "one nation under God."The President begins by explaining that it is about "recounting the joys and blessings of the past year." This is an important statement because the majority of people (including teachers) mistakenly think that Thanksgiving is a nostalgic remembrance of the Pilgrims of long ago.

If someone were to ask you what the baseball World Series is, it would be odd if you answered that it is a time when we gather with friends and family to recall the first baseball competition of 1903. Likewise, while Thanksgiving does have a beginning with the Pilgrims, that is not why we celebrate it today. The President rightly calls upon us to "recount the joys and blessings of the past year." 

 

The President explains, "This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives."

In his second paragraph, the President gives a brief overview of its history. He mentions the Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe. He also highlights George Washington's prayer "to our Creator" as well as Lincoln's proclamation.

In his fourth paragraph, the President calls upon the nation to "spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence." He does this "by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States."

Read the Proclamation to Your Family

I recommend you print out the proclamation and read it to your family. It is important that we not only remind ourselves what God has done for us individually, but that we live in a country that officially does this as well. It is part of being "one nation under God."

Teach about the Proclamation Next Week

If you are a teacher, you can incorporate the President's proclamation in a post-Thanksgiving class discussion. Ask students specifically what they did for Thanksgiving Day. Then, ask them if they did what the President asked them to do. When they reply that they were not aware that the President asked them to do anything, give them a copy of his proclamation, read it aloud, and discuss it. This is a teachable moment -- a time to discuss a few of the following topics:
  1. What it means to be "one nation under God."
  2. The Bill of Rights and freedom of religious expression
  3. America's Judeo-Christian heritage
  4. The often-misunderstood phrase "separation of church and state"
  5. What it means to end the proclamation "in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve" (our calendar dating)

Download the President's Thanksgiving Proclamation.

For all of us at Gateways to Better Education, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving as you remember all that God has given you and given America.