Thanksgiving. A time of giving thanks.
We gather together as a family, a family of cultures forming America. We give thanks for our country, its founding, and the diversity of its peoples, a rainbow promising many pots of gold.
We gather together in order to gather up all of our peoples to celebrate this remarkable land – its fields and forests, streams and lakes, seas and bays, cities and towns, large and small. Our peoples are many, and of many colors, of many races, of many generations, of many beliefs.
In a way, our Thanksgiving holiday echoes our Independence Day. But the Fourth of July recalled a pulling away to protect defensively who we thought we might be, an identity we groped to formulate, two hundred years ago. But since that time of our founding fathers, our nation has matured and we have come to know ourselves better. We know how rich and prosperous and talented we are. We appreciate, even honor, our differences. We have learned humility as well in as we mourn our mistakes, our fallen heroes, our false prides.
Our nation has been called a melting pot. And indeed we are – a melting pot in which we still savor each flavor of this aromatic blend, stirred again and again.
If we were born here, we count ourselves fortunate.
If we immigrated here, we count ourselves blessed.
If we desire to come here, we pray for the chance.
But all of us Americans, whether by birth or immigration, must agree to a common rule of law to keep the common peace. We must take seriously our freedoms which demand certain civic responsibilities. We must educate ourselves, learn the native language, read about the issues. We must respect democracy’s demands.
Granted this, we are a great people. And it is for these people, the American people, I am supremely thankful. We came from Europe, fleeing prejudice and tyranny and most of all, religious persecution.
Let us recall on Thursday as we feast upon turkey and pie, stuffing and cranberries, to not forget the settlers who came before us and the tribes who first lived in this fair land. Somehow, the pilgrims and the Indians, through war and peace, have merged and melted into the broth, making us a stronger people.
My family has American Indian blood running in its veins. We also have Irish and English, Norwegian and French ancestry, even a touch of German. We share in this multi-ethnic stream, and we are stronger for it. We are more creative for it. We are more interesting, more multi-faceted. We have a more promising future.
America is a country of inter-marriage. Marriage – where two unite sacramentally to produce a third – is something we take for granted. But such an equation stirs the genetic pot. Rather than cloning, reproducing the same, each child is a new uncharted genetic universe, a world of infinite possibility. Each creation is thus a grandiose miracle.
So nations and race do not matter. We came together, indeed, continue to come together, in this land to form a new peaceful union, one in which we may freely practice what we believe, freely travel where we wish, freely buy and sell goods. We continue to grow into who we are meant to be.
This nation is different from all that have come before, and all others today. We celebrate our differences, respecting them, honoring them, encouraging them. We only require one rule – the rule of law, the rule that ensures peace among us.
So, after our recent national elections, we pause to give thanks for our founding fathers. We pause to recall their hardships and challenges. We pause to give thanks for a roof over our heads and a meal set before us. We gather as families and friends around our tables, in halls or homes. We are Americans.
And those of us who believe in a God of providence and grace, we give thanks especially to God, for the grace to believe, for this great land we call America, and for the glory of our freedom.