On this Thanksgiving eve, families across west central Minnesota are preparing for and traveling to celebrate Thursday's American tradition of Thanksgiving.
Thursday should be a good day of thanksgiving, family, friends, football and a lot of good food, especially some excellent Minnesota turkey.
The American Indians originally celebrated what has become Thanksgiving as a harvest festival long before Europe's emigrants first landed upon the shores of North America.
When the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed in December 1620 near Pahtuksut, now current day Plymouth, Mass., these European immigrants were ill-prepared for the reality of New World. Many of these Pilgrim immigrants did not survive this first winter.
The Wampanoag Indians of eastern Massachusetts played a role in helping and teaching the Pilgrims how to survive in this new land. The Wampanoag taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims along with about 90 Wampanoag Indians, including their chief, Massasoit, celebrated the fall harvest. This three-day celebration was the first Thanksgiving.
The Wampanoag Indians were nearly exterminated during King Phillips War in the late 1670s, and the survivors killed, sold into slavery or escaped to other tribes. Yet the tribe endured and re-organized as the Wampanoag Nation in 1928, with nearly 3,000 members today.
Today, some American Indians consider Thanksgiving a day of mourning for their culture and people.
Thanksgivings remained a predominately a New England tradition into the late 1700s. In 1777, a Day of Thanksgiving was declared to celebrate the American victory at Saratoga over the British. Then President Washington declared a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789 and President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November a Thanksgiving holiday in 1863.
This truly American holiday remained a state-by-state, year-by-year, proclaimed holiday until the mid 20th century.
In 1941, Congress declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is time to reflect a little.
West central Minnesota as a region has weathered the current recession better than other regions of the country.
The year 2009 saw another miracle of democracy -- the peaceful transition of the government of the United States.
As we remember our troops serving overseas, let us pray for their safe return and remember those who will not return.
The year 2009 has been a trying year for many. Businesses have closed and people have lost their jobs in west central Minnesota. So remember to help those in need this year.
Let us give thanks for those blessings of family, friends and community that we all enjoy right here in west central Minnesota. The American prosperity we all enjoy remains the envy of the world.
Finally, let us all be thankful for that fine turkey -- hatched, raised and processed right here in west central Minnesota -- we all hope to enjoy Thursday.