Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863. There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true Thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early Thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast.
In the second half of the 1600s, Thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one Thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.
Later, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of « Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens » in 1863. Since then, it has been celebrated as Federal holiday every year on the last Thursday of November.
Thanksgiving is a special time of year to give thanks and spend quality time with family and friends. Unfortunately, the reality for many service members is that they will be away from home and won’t be able to spend Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones.
If you’d like to open your heart and home to a service member, there are many ways to do so. You can start by visiting your installation’s website to find out if your community participates in Adopt-a-Service Member programs such as “Operation Home Cooking” and the Army’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers “Adopt-a-Soldier” program.
If a program is not yet established in your area, you can reach out to service members on your own through your contacts or start your own program.
Visit this website for does and don’ts when hosting a service member or for more information on this.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!