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Editorial: Thursday is a day to give thanks

Family members across west central Minnesota and beyond are hoping to travel or come home today or Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving, for most, is truly a holiday of good family, friends and great food, especially with locally grown turkey.

The harvest festival, a celebration that evolved into Thanksgiving, was celebrated by many Native Americans in North America long before the Pilgrim immigration.

The Pilgrims were not the first immigrants to North America, but were the first colony to survive in the new world.

Primarily English, the Pilgrims landed in December near present-day Plymouth, Mass., ill prepared for the harsh reality that faced them.

With assistance and teaching from the Wampanoag Indians of eastern Massachusetts, the Pilgrims learned how to survive and lived through their first winter.

The Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in a three-day celebration in the fall of 1621 with the Wampanoags as guests, now recognized as the first Thanksgiving.

President George Washington declared the United States first Thanksgiving on Nov. 26, 1789, as a day of thanksgiving for the nation having survived the Revolutionary War.

It took another 74 years before Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1863. It took another 78 years until Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thanksgiving remains, first and foremost, a day of thanksgiving for our blessings, of which there are many. It is a time to reflect upon our many blessings.

- While the America we live in is not perfect, it remains the envy of the world.

- We live in America, a country of many freedoms.

- We remain a country of laws governed by the people and for the people.

- We remain a country with an economy envied by many nations of the world.

- We remain a nation of strength.

- West central Minnesota and much of the upper Midwest has weathered the Great Recession far better than other parts of the country.

- We saw another miracle of democracy as the 2010 Election Day came and passed with peaceful results, leading to expected transition of government positions in January.

- All Americans, every immigrant and every guest remains free to practice the faith of their choice or no faith at all if they so choose.

Our blessings truly are many.

Let us remember those military personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world protecting Americans and those in needs. Keep our troops in your Thanksgiving prayers.

As you gather to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, friends and community, remember your blessings.

Finally, we cannot forget that wonderful mainstay of any Thanksgiving dinner -- the American turkey. The majority of that fine turkey on America's plate Thursday waAright here in west central Minnesota.

Thursday is a good day to be thankful, especially for good turkey. Moreover, do not forget to pass the cranberries.