In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to petition God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers” from the Civil War, and to “heal the wounds of the nation” by joining in Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date of Thanksgiving up a week, calling for an earlier celebration of the holiday as a means of fueling retail sales.
One president marked Thanksgiving with God. The other, with secularism.
And on that theme, this is the cultural tension that divides the nation to this day.
Choose wisely, America, which path to pursue: Our nation’s freedoms depend on the correct selection.
America is a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles — at root, on the concept that individual rights come from God, not government, and that government only exists in order to protect and preserve the rights that are already bestowed to each individual at birth, by God.
That’s the blessing of being American.
That’s the great gift of being born in America.
Truly, that’s the thanks each and every American should recognize this Thanksgiving — and every day of the year, for that matter.
But without God at the helm, the concept of God-given dies. You can’t have God-given if there’s no God, right?
“Since the late 19th century, Thanksgiving had traditionally been celebrated on the final Thursday in November. But in 1939, Roosevelt’s seventh year in office, that last Thursday fell on November 30. And that left a mere 24 days of shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Vox wrote.
“Retailers believed this would lead to less money spent on holiday gifts,” Vox continued. “The solution seemed obvious — the date should be moved one week earlier, to Thursday, November 23.”
With the stroke of the pen, he issued an executive order. Voila, Thanksgiving’s date was moved.
Or was it?
Political and cultural backlash quickly mounted. Republicans condemned Roosevelt for bucking tradition and abusing his presidential power. The minister of one Plymouth, Massachusetts, church slammed Roosevelt for launching a “calloused attack on a religious tradition.” Atlantic City Mayor Charles White dubbed the executively ordered day as “Franksgiving,” not Thanksgiving. And the nation split on largely political lines on celebrations that year, with Democratic-controlled states proclaiming the 30th as the holiday and Republican-dominated states, the 23rd.
In 1941, Congress put an end to the matter with a joint resolution, ultimately signed by Roosevelt, that set the official national Thanksgiving Day date as the fourth Thursday in November.
But the running undercurrent of that decade’s debate over Thanksgiving’s date still exists today — and it goes like this: Is America guided by God or by man?
Is America a nation with blessings that come from God, or from government?
Democrats, and the socialists and Marxists and collectivists and globalists and elitists that run the policies and platforms and politics of the Democratic Party, would have it believed that government is the be all and end all; that government is the source of societal greatness; that only government can give what’s necessary for citizens to be happy.
That’s a lie.
Truly, that’s the lie that true Americans must fight.
This is the lie of our times — and as Franksgiving shows, it’s the lie of old times, too.
Choose wisely, America. Our identity is at stake. We can have Thanksgiving, or we can have Franksgiving. But truthfully, our nation’s roots were based on the first.
Our nation’s key to keeping free relies on recognizing God as the king and government simply as the servant. That’s as blessed as it gets in this lifetime.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE. Her latest book, “Socialists Don’t Sleep: Christians Must Rise Or America Will Fall,” is available by clicking HERE.