Abraham Lincoln, Thanksgiving and a Thank You Note

First, I want to thank all those who have commented on this blog in its early weeks. I appreciate, it and so do the many other readers who have yet to make the jump to commenting themselves: to whom I’d say, come on in, the water’s fine!

Maureen Rogers
Brooks Sackett
Steve Smith
David Andrew Thompson
David Maister
Ian Welsh
Dan Keeney
Drew Neisser
Martin Calle
Vince Kuraitis
Sharon Horstead
Karen Hudak
Mike Slater
Barbara Garabedian
Todd M. Warner
Martin Calle
Michael Fabiano
Shaula Evans
Philip McGee
Eddie Rogers

A few words about Thanksgiving.

Many of you may already know that Thanksgiving was initiated by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, in the heart of the Civil War (but not me—I didn’t know until Tom Hudak set me straight). It is worth reading Lincoln’s words in the original; few writers can improve on Lincoln.

I am hardly unique in my great admiration for Lincoln. He was not only a world-historical figure, but a freak of humanity. He burst upon the world from obscure Kentucky roots. He had four sons, 3 of whom died young, with Robert living into the 1920s—none of them leaving any descendants.

Lincoln had an astonishing capacity for empathy. You get the sense that he personally felt deeply the loss of every soldier from both sides—in the hundreds of thousands.

No doubt there were politics involved in the proclamation—maybe someone can comment on that—he was profoundly political. But he was also conscious of subordinating politics to the pursuit of broader goals. Or so it seems to me.

In any case, the holiday he started has become perhaps America’s favorite. Largely secular (or at least non-denominational), and largely non-nationalistic—Lincoln’s appeal explicitly transcends our national boundaries—it appeals to our better impulses.

It is good to aspire to an attitude of gratitude, and, thanks to Lincoln, to have a holiday that reminds us to do so.