Many of our schools are not giving the documented story of the pilgrims or separatist protestants who proclaimed a 3 day feast from which comes most of our thanksgiving traditions.
The well documented story of the Pilgrims tell us that they set out on the Mayflower with a type of land grant from England to a particular area named Virginia. However, they actually landed on November 11, 1620 about 200 miles north of Virginia in what we now know as Massachusetts.
It was already a severe winter when they arrived and they had no homes or shelter. Half of them died by spring, leaving around 50 alive. The native people in the area were peaceful and had learned some English from a former native American who had been taken to England several years before. They taught the Pilgrims how to plant different crops and what and how to hunt and fish in this new and rugged country.
Because of the friendship with that peaceful tribal group, their first harvest was bountiful and helped them get through the winter. They proclaimed a three-day celebration which included feasting, athletic competition and a lot of fun. There were ninety Indians invited to share with the remaining 53 Pilgrims.
Here is one of only a few surviving records of that first feast day.
"our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you (friends back home in Holland and England) partakers of our plenty."
It was in 1623, after a miraculous answer to fasting and prayer for rain that the group actually proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving. The Indians were so impressed that the God of the Pilgrims had given rain in the right manner at the right time that many were quite open to becoming believers in the one true God and his son, Jesus, the Anointed One.
I think it would be good for our school children to know more about the true and documented Thanksgiving days proclaimed and finally set into our national holiday calendar. Those early settlers and explorers had many threatening hardships and yet they were able to thank God and be thankful and happy for life itself in the midst of many challenges.
Americans have generally been a thankful people. If we ever allow that quality which is celebrated as a Thanksgiving Day to honor how God has blessed us and this nation, I fear we would have lost a part of the true character of this wonderful nation. That needs to be expressed, in my opinion, to our current educational system.