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happy thanksgiving

November 22, 2012

For me, like many others, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and (more importantly) share a delicious meal with those around me in the spirit of generosity and kindness. And while I love to stuff my face full of delicious, home-cooked food as much as the next stereotypical American, I think it’s worthwhile to reflect on the history of Thanksgiving.

Much like Columbus Day, this holiday is marred by a grim and bloody past, from the mythologized 1621 celebration at Plymouth to the 1863 proclamation by President Lincoln for a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” during the midst of the Civil War.

The former belies the tragic fate of the Native Americans that unfolded under Manifest Destiny and the 19th century policy of Indian removal, while the latter was set within the context of what many consider to be the deadliest war in American history.

So for me, today isn’t just about being thankful, overeating, and maybe watching some football. It’s also about remembering the rather somber and often overlooked history underlying this holiday with the intention to learn from the past and strengthen my resolve to try and make this world a better place. As George Santayana famously wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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