Thanksgiving Past and Woke
Thursday, November 25, 2021
William Stroock, author of military fiction, commentator
This Thursday America will have its second Covid Thanksgiving. Despite treatment and vaccine breakthroughs more Americans have died of Covid in 2021 (392,000 +) than died of Covid in 2020 (377,000+). American Covid cases are surging once again, and as of 18 November the seven-day rolling average stood at 88,482, 16% than the previous seven days. At least 59% of the nation is vaccinated, with the Centers for Disease control approving vaccinations for children and suggesting adults get boosters.
On Thursday Americans will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving regardless. The American Automobile Association estimates more than 53 million people will travel on Thanksgiving. Motorists will pay more than a dollar per gallon over what they paid last Thanksgiving. This observer will take the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River to be with family in New York State.
By tradition families and friends meet for a feast in which a turkey is the main dish. Many in the American south will substitute a ham alongside. As many side dishes as can be fit on a buffet table are served. There will be pie. In a ritual dating back to the 1960s the National Football League will broadcast a pair of football games. By tradition the two host teams are the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, colloquially referred to as ‘America’s Team’. For a silly television sitcom gag going back to 1978, those interested may also want to look up the infamous WKRP in Cincinnati Turkey Drop.
In America, Thanksgiving is first and foremost a commemoration of the very first Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in 1621. After a year at Plymouth Rock in windswept Massachusetts, the surviving Pilgrims, about half had died over the course of the year, met for a three-day feast of thanks and remembrance. The local Pawtucket Indians heard some commotion among the Pilgrims and upon investigating, were invited to join the celebration.
The current national holiday dates back to President Lincoln who on 3 October, 1863 called for a National Day of Thanksgiving. At the time the United States had only just turned the tide against the Confederates at Gettysburg, and two more years of hard, destructive fighting remained. The war would kill hundreds of thousands and devastate the American south for a century. Yet President Lincoln called for a national day of Thanksgiving without reference to North or South, Yankee or Confederate. In doing so, President Lincoln was trying to set the stage for national healing and reconciliation.
On the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving Americans can’t even agree that there should be a Thanksgiving. The American left see Thanksgiving as a sham holiday that whitewashes the subjugation of Native Americans. The very arrival of Europeans in North America is viewed a crime by some. Just this week the Women’s March apologized for asking for a donation of $14.92, 1492 being the year Columbus discovered America. Said the Women’s March in an email, ‘It was an oversight on our part to not make the connection to a year of colonization, conquest, and genocide for Indigenous people, especially before Thanksgiving.’ Many municipalities in the United States have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.
The left doesn’t like Abraham Lincoln either. During the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protestors attacked the Lincoln Emancipation Statue in Washington DC. The statue portrays Lincoln breaking a slave’s chains of bondage and lifting him to freedom. Erected in 1876, the statue was partially paid for by African American freedmen as a homage to the Great Emancipator. In Boston the City Council removed a replica of the Emancipation Statue last December. A spokesman for Mayor Marty Walsh said, ‘The decision for removal acknowledged the statue’s role in perpetuating harmful prejudices and obscuring the role of Black Americans in shaping the nation’s freedoms.’
Just this week in New York City two statues of American presidents were taken down. The New York City Council removed from city hall a statue of Thomas Jefferson that had stood for 187 years. The writer of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President was deemed unworthy by the council because he owned slaves. Also this week a statue of Teddy Roosevelt, the nation’s 26th president and former New York City chief of police, was removed from the front of the Museum of Natural History. A horse mounted Teddy Roosevelt was flanked by Indian and African guides. The museum said the Teddy Roosevelt statue represented, ‘racial hierarchy that the museum and members of the public have long found disturbing…’ The statue is being shipped to the Theodore Roosevelt presidential library in North Dakota.
At the end of this year NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio leaves office with the city in the midst of a huge crime wave. New York City could use Teddy Roosevelt more than ever.
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