The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox, C4FIC Board member.
“Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.” (Proverbs 22:28)
Call me politically incorrect if you like, but I tend to believe the history books that were written before the 1950s more than the ones that are written today. For one thing, the older history books tell us that the Pilgrims had their first Thanksgiving celebration to give thanks to … God!
Dr. Paul Vitz, a professor of psychology at New York University, has studied the bias against religious references in public school texts. He reported, for example, the second grade text by Riverside (formerly Rand McNally) has 31 pages on the Pilgrims, but it describes them entirely without reference to religion.
Vitz told the story of one mother in an upper middle-class New York City suburb who complained to the principal when her first grade son was told by his teacher that at Thanksgiving the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians. The mother told the principal that it was simply a historical fact that Thanksgiving was a time when the Pilgrims gave thanks to God, but the principal replied that the mother’s position “was just opinion and not documented fact,” and therefore the school could not teach it. The principal said that “they could only teach what was contained in the history books.” (“Public School Textbooks and Christian Values,” by Wayne Grudem)
This is what is documented as having been written by William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, as a proclamation.
“… I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
Thanksgiving is a time, as the Bible says, to “Give thanks to the Lord! Call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples.” With that in mind, I offer this meager effort of my own at poetry as a reminder of the lessons God teaches us through the Pilgrims.
Men of courage and women of honor, Children wide-eyed with excitement, A journey of 65 days across the Atlantic, One crewman and one passenger lost, One baby, Oceanus, born, The Pilgrims landed and the new world was Forever changed. A brutal winter brought sickness and death, The spring came none too soon, And found the weary Pilgrims nearly cut in half, 46 were gone. The Wampanoag came in spring and taught The Pilgrims how to plant and fish and live, And God rekindled hope. With harvest time, the Pilgrims rejoiced, And asked their new friends to come and share, Massasoit and 90 of his people came And feasted for three days. The Governor led the Pilgrims in giving thanks To God for His providential care, And the colony bowed their heads. O God our help in ages past, We stand in debt to the Pilgrims, For their courage to come and their Faith to stay, For their Compact of laws that laid a Foundation, for their zeal to teach and reach The lost. We give thanks today, O Lord, And we commit our lives again to You. Though the path ahead may bring suffering or death, Give us Pilgrim courage and faith to stay In the Plymouth place where You have planted us, With hope that does not disappoint And love that never fails.
Prayer: “Lord, thank You that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and sacrificed for freedom. Let us not take that freedom for granted or squander it through careless living.”
Action: Read a good book (not a politically correct one!) on the Pilgrims and discuss the origin of Thanksgiving with your children.