The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). The painting shows common misconceptions about the event that persist to modern times: Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great Plains.[7]

Happy Thanksgiving

During this uniquely American holiday, as we gather with family and friends to thank God for the blessings He has granted each of us, let us not forget also the blessings He has bestowed on our country since its earliest days.

The Pilgrims showed gratitude at a difficult time, when they had so much less than we enjoy today. After a period of starvation, sickness, and death during those first bitterly cold months, the Plymouth colonists dared not take for granted their first harvest. They opened the Thanksgiving feast by serving five kernels of corn on each plate, as a reminder of the harsh conditions and meager rations they had endured on the Mayflower voyage.

Despite their earlier trials, the Pilgrims gave thanks to their Creator for delivering them to a new land of opportunity, and they saw the new harvest as a gift from God.

In the same way, may we now count our blessings. This is a time to pause and reflect on what makes us free and prosperous: a belief in the God-given dignity of each person, which spurs us to defend the rule of law and the rights of others.

I wish you a joyous Thanksgiving with your loved ones. And, after this quiet time of reflection on God’s blessings, may we return to the fray, ready to defend the liberty that allows us to enjoy them.