My Two Favorite Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations
Presidential Proclamations about Thanksgiving are ignored by history- for the most part. But they often reflect the mood of the nation and capture the real spirit of Thanksgiving. My two favorite proclamations are from Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 and Richard Nixon in 1971. Roosevelt was bringing the nation through the Second World War. June 6 was a fresh memory and Germany was about to launch an all out attack on the Western Front in an attempt to shatter the allied coalition.
Nixon was ending the nightmare of the Vietnam War that reached its bloody apex in 1968 under Lyndon Johnson -causing the highest number of US deaths and turning American cities into powder kegs of violence. Here are excerpts from each proclamation, chosen for similarities in tone and appeal. I encourage you to read both proclamations in full.
For the harvest that has sustained us and, in its fullness, brought succor to other peoples; for the bounty of our soil, which has produced the sinews of war for the protection of our liberties; and for a multitude of private blessings, known only in our hearts, we should give united thanks to God.
To the end that we may bear more earnest witness to our gratitude to Almighty God, I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved.
Proclamation 2629 Franklin Roosevelt 1944
And for our heritage – a land rich with the bountiful blessings of God, and the freedom to enjoy those rich blessings – we give thanks to God Almighty in this time, and for all time.
Now, Therefore, I, Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America in accordance with the wish of the Congress as expressed in Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1971, as a day of national thanksgiving. I call upon all Americans to share this day, to give thanks in homes and in places of worship for the many blessings our people enjoy, to welcome the elderly and less fortunate as special participants in this day’s festivities and observances, thereby truly showing our gratitude to God by expressing and reflecting His love.
Proclamation 4093 Richard Nixon 1971