Magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote the famous nursery rhyme, had lobbied for decades for a Thanksgiving holiday to be celebrated nationwide on a specific day. She persuaded President Abraham Lincoln that such a celebration could help unify a nation fractured by the Civil War. Lincoln’s proclamation, dated Oct. 3, 1863, established the last Thursday in November as “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
The task of drafting the proclamation falls to the president’s speechwriting staff – and it can be a challenging assignment. James Humes, a speechwriter for several Republican presidents, once complained, “You try sometime writing the presidential Thanksgiving Day message and not sounding trite!”
What the proclamation omits also can be troublesome. In 2009, conservatives criticized Mr. Obama because the proclamation mentioned God only when it quoted George Washington.
Last year, Obama’s message said: “We lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings....” This year, it says, "... we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives."
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Dave Cook writes at The Chrstian Science Monitor of the connection between Thanksgiving and "Mary had a little lamb."