There is more than one American tradition of Thanksgiving as a celebration
of survival.

Virginians will point out that a thanksgiving was proclaimed at least a
decade before William Bradford's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1623. The
winter of 1610 in Jamestown was particularly bitter, reducing the number of
colonists from 409 to 60. Finally a ship arrived, bringing food and supplies
from England. A prayer meeting was called to give thanks.

People in El Paso, Texas, claim the first Thanksgiving Day in what is now
the United States was celebrated even earlier, in 1598. Explorer Juan de
Onate led an expedition from what is now Chihuahua City in Mexico to what is
now El Paso in the United States. Forty-five days into the 50-day desert
journey, the expedition ran out of food and water. Ultimately they reached
the Rio Grande, whose water and surrounding vegetation and wildlife saved
them. On their 10th and last day of recuperation, Onate ordered a day of
thanksgiving for their survival.

Nevertheless, the image of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans - members
of the Wampanoag tribe, to be precise -- remains strong. Perhaps that is
because the Plymouth Colony Thanksgiving was more than a celebration of
survival; it was a celebration of two distinct people coming together.
Relations between settlers and original inhabitants frequently turned bad,
to say the least. But this early historical date portended a promise of
Americans free to practice their beliefs and customs and who would be
mutually supportive in hard times.

Members of the 470th MI Brigade and all members of the U.S. Armed Forces
both defend that promise and promote its realization by the appreciation of
diversity within our ranks and application of teamwork in our daily duties.
Thanksgiving Day is an occasion to give thanks not only for what we have but
also for the survival of our forebears and their ideals, which included
recognition of their reliance on something greater than themselves.

As you celebrate your own Thanksgiving, my family and I express our thanks
for each and every one of you. May all of you and yours have a meaningful,
enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Please remember those that are not
with us during this holiday as they ensure the separation and absence of
their families - they continue to fight for our freedom and defend our
constitutional rights.



Page last updated Tue November 20th, 2012 at 09:49