In the 1620s, Pilgrims arrived in the New World seeking sanctuary from the religious persecution they experienced in England. The small number of Pilgrims established s colony in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest, which the Pilgrims celebrated with Native Americans, who helped them pass the last winter by giving them food in the time of scarcity. To this very day, there are those who seek sanctuary in America, due to hardship in their native land.
How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, what are you thankful for this year in New Jersey?
The first notion of our country’s destiny was established in 1620 when the Pilgrims, fleeing England in search of religious freedom, settled in America. Life in Plymouth Colony was beyond difficult, but the Pilgrims worked hard and remained steadfast in their faith.
In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims, along with the Indians they befriended, celebrated their first harvest by giving thanks. Their celebration started a thanksgiving tradition that has endured for nearly 400 years.
Until 1863, Thanksgiving was celebrated disparately throughout the country. It was in 1863 – also a very difficult time – that President Abraham Lincoln, speaking to our nation’s great bounty, issued a proclamation making Thanksgiving a national and truly American holiday.
Lincoln is ironically connected to the Pilgrims in another way. It was Lincoln's timeless words that firmly established and made permanent the very destiny to which the Pilgrims gave notion. Indeed, from Lincoln’s day forward, there was no escaping our destiny as "a nation conceived in liberty” and “the last best hope of earth.”
The Ciattarellis will celebrate Thanksgiving this year as we always do – gathered as a family most grateful for its many blessings, including courageous grandparents who immigrated to New Jersey in search of a better life for themselves and their heirs.
While thanking the Almighty for our blessings isn’t a uniquely American act, the Holiday itself has become so. For Americans, Thanksgiving recalls the struggles of the Pilgrims, the triumph of the American Revolution, the dark days of the Civil War and the belief that through it all, divine providence has had a hand in making us who we are today.
We all look forward to the well-established traditions through which we celebrate Thanksgiving. The centerpiece is the meal, which usually includes Turkey. The meal is with our families, actual and extended, big and small. And of course, if you don’t overload yourself on Turkey you can always overload yourself with football. This Thanksgiving I look forward to spending time away from it all with Debbie and my daughters, Emily, Sarah and Rachel and our extended family. I am thankful for them and the support that they have given me during my years of public service.
The struggles of our ancestors, compared to what we enjoy and take for granted today, easily demonstrate what we have to be thankful for today. It also marks the distance we have travelled in forming “a more perfect union,” and serves as a reminder of what we can aspire to be if we work together. Happy Thanksgiving.