I sat down to write this column on Thanksgiving Day eve. I wondered what I could write about Thanksgiving Day that would be meaningful. Then, I opened my e-mail box and found a kindly friend had sent me the following proclamation from our first president, George Washington, establishing Thanksgiving Day in 1789.
Throughout our nation’s history, American Presidents have issued Thanksgiving Proclamations thanking Almighty God for His blessings. Here is the first one given by President George Washington. Who can doubt what he meant for this day to be? I hope you appreciate as much as I did.
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
I recently got a light rap on the knuckles with a verbal ruler in the form of a letter from a Colorado reader. The reader questioned my wisdom, or lack thereof, of including a true story in a column that the reader believed took cruelty to animals too far. The story involved a “dumb animal” (a cat) and a hot shot. He concluded that “this is a fine example of how the devil works in this old world and whether, or not, the story was true, is immaterial.
Well, my knuckle-bruise has subsided and I’ve taken the reprimand in stride as something that comes with the territory for a old, decrepit column writer. I’ve ruffled feathers (probably inappropriate term to use in this situation) before and it will probably happen again. — although I’m never pleased that it happens. I’ll try to be more sensitive in the future, but I can’t promise.
The reader went on to say that, in general, he enjoys my columns. Then he included a personal story worthy of retelling. Here’s how he tells it:
“I recall one time when we were still on the ranch and one of our Black Angus cows had calved during the night down in the willows on Crow Creek. So, the next morning I told my wife that I was going to ride my good cow horse, Apache, down to the creek to check on the cow and baby. I grabbed an ear tag to put in the new calf’s ear and rode Apache down to the creek. But when I got within about 20 feet of the cow and calf, I couldn’t make Apache take me any closer. So, I dismounted, tied Apache’s reins to a small willow branch, and proceeded to walk up to the pair. But, as I approached, the cow started pawing the turf and blowing snot and I knew she meant business! As I turned around to get the heck out of there, she charged! The Good Lord helped me outrun her to safety, but when I got to where I had left Apache, he was gone — high-tailing it for the barn. I started walking home and soon my wife came in the pickup to see why Apache has come home without me. After I explained what had happened, she just grinned and said, ‘Suppose maybe the horse was a bit smarter than you?’ She was probably right, but it sure didn’t say much for ol’ Apache.”
The reader noted that his last name has a silent consonant in it like the “P” in watermelon. It’s there but you just don’t pronounce it.
Enuf said. That comment contains the wisdom for this week. Have a good ‘un.