Since President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday during the dark days of the Civil War, U.S. presidents have delivered messages or proclamations of thanks for the bounties seen in their days, encouraging citizens to help those who are in need or expressing gratitude to those who are in service to the country. Here are some notable excerpts to consider on Thanksgiving Day, 2022.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
— John F. Kennedy, 1963
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”
— Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
“Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.”
— Ronald Reagan, 1981
“In this season, let us offer more than words of thanksgiving to God. Let us resolve to offer Him the best that is within us — tolerance, respect for life, faith in the destiny of all men to live in peace.”
— Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968
“Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday — whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams — but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without.”
— Barack Obama, 2015
“I’m particularly proud to be with the First Armored Division, the Second ACR, the 82nd Airborne. I can’t think of a finer group of folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all. We’re proud of you. Today, Americans are gathering with their loved ones to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. And this year we are especially thankful for the courage and the sacrifice of those who defend us, the men and women of the United States military.”
— George W. Bush, 2003
That last, most unusual Thanksgiving Day message was delivered by the 43rd president when he made a surprise visit to an American base in Baghdad during the early days of the war in Iraq.
In that line, to those serving in the military, law enforcement and in health care — many of whom must work today; to those who are volunteering today to offer a healthy, happy meal to others who are in need or who gathered and distributed food offerings with similar intent; and to everyone else celebrating the holiday in their own, many ways, Happy Thanksgiving.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.