When President George Washington issued the first national proclamation declaring a national Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in 1789, the idea behind it was to ask Americans to recognize and acknowledge “with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Over 230 years later, the Chancellor of Schools for the District of Columbia took the occasion of Thanksgiving to write to parents and suggest that they “decolonize” the holiday, including beginning your big family meal with a “land acknowledgement.”
If you don’t know what any of that means, welcome to 2021 and the era of wokeness-as-civil-religion.
Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed. D., the district’s chancellor, did some things you might expect in a holiday missive, including wishing “you and your family a joyful start to the holiday season.” In an email to “DCPS Families,” he thanked everyone for their hard work, encouraged COVID-19 vaccinations, and then got to the real purpose for his communication.
“Thanksgiving is a day that can be difficult for many to celebrate as we reflect on the history of the holiday and the horrors inflicted on our indigenous populations,” Ferebee wrote. “If you celebrate, our Equity team has shared resources for how you can consider decolonizing your Thanksgiving (emphasis in original).”
“If you host a Thanksgiving meal, consider doing a land acknowledgement.” Apparently, the purpose of this is to discuss the indigenous people who once lived on the land where you are enjoying your annual family meal. The instructions that come with performing a land acknowledgment tell you, “Don’t sugarcoat the past. Use terms like genocide, ethnic cleansing, stolen land, and forced removal to reflect actions taken by colonizers.”
Is Thanksgiving really the time to do that?
When President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 began our modern annual tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving every November, the purpose was not to revisit the Pilgrims’ 1621 meal with members of the Wampanoag tribe or to commemorate the documented ill-treatment of Native Americans throughout our history, but rather to ask all Americans to focus on, “the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
The real emphasis around the Thanksgiving table ought to be Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides our every blessing. Christians know this instinctively.
Perhaps that’s why the Left’s objective, epitomized in the email from Chancellor Ferebee, is to convert the spiritual purpose for the holiday into some kind of national apology tour for the nation’s sins.
In his 1863 proclamation during the height of the Civil War, Lincoln wasn’t oblivious to what he called the “national perverseness and disobedience” that resulted in a nation at war with itself. He called for “humble penitence” while asking God to “heal the wounds of the nation.” That suggests that reflection should form a valuable part of any annual Thanksgiving celebration.
But the current effort in many of the nation’s public schools to cast a pall over this country’s history at every opportunity, and especially over God’s beneficent hand in forming and blessing this “one nation under God,” strikes us as being more insidious than helpful.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV)
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