Editor’ note: Pelican Rapids Press reader, and Pelican native, Earl Erickson, submitted this piece on Thanksgiving history. Erickson, a veteran who has been living on the northwest cost for smore than 50 years, continues to have strong sentimental ties to the Pelican Rapids area.)
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the USA. It occurs at the end of November every year. Here is the Story.
In September 1620, a small sailing ship-“the Mayflower”-left Plymouth, England carrying 102 passengers and crew. Most passengers were religious separatists seeking a new home where they could practice their faith. The ocean crossing lasted 66 days. The ship arrived and dropped anchor near Cape Cod-north of their intended location. One month later the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay to where they wanted to be.
That is where some of the passengers left the ship and started to build a place for the winter months ahead. Their first winter was brutal. They suffered exposure, illness, and short food supply. 50% of the passengers and crew lived to see the New England spring. ON the shore they were greeted by a “Abenaki Indian” who spoke English. Days later, he returned with another Native Indian called “Squanto”-a member of Pawtuxet Tribe. He taught the passengers and crew “how to live off the land, catching fish, cultivating corn, etc. Squanto helped the settlers associate with another Indian Tribe named Wampanoag, which would be an example of harmony between the European colonists and the Native American Indians for more than 50 years.
In November 1621-Governor William Bradford organized celebrating feast with the colony’s people and area Indians. It lasted three days. Edward Winslow wrote and recorded the gathering of colonists and area Indians. It is considered the first Thanksgiving event giving thanks to the goodness of the Spirit of God.
But it wasn’t until 1863, during the Civil War era that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be held on the last Thursday in November. But it was years later in 1941, when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making Thanksgiving to be held on the fourth Thursday in November.
With this short dissertation, it is important to take the time to give “thanks” for what we have and hold dear in our hearts to Almighty God. So be it.