Although presidential pardons of turkeys at the White House always get more than their share of media attention — and this year was no exception — President Barack Obama’s formal Thanksgiving proclamation isn’t receiving the negative buzz it did last year from some quarters. That’s when he ran into a buzz saw of criticism for what some considered a theological snub because he mentioned God only indirectly. Oddly enough, this year’s declaration genuflects twice to the deity, which even some of those who lambasted him last year are thanking the Lord for.
The Christian Post
acknowledges that Obama’s message this year mentions God twice, thus “continuing the tradition of previous presidential proclamations that attributed blessings to God.”
Obama’s first mention of God actually assumes a prayerful tone, in calling Americans to gratitude: “As we stand at the close of one year and look to the promise of the next, we lift up our hearts in gratitude to God for our many blessings, for one another, and for our Nation. This Thanksgiving Day, we remember that the freedoms and security we enjoy as Americans are protected by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. These patriots are willing to lay down their lives in our defense, and they and their families deserve our profound gratitude for their service and sacrifice.”
Later in the proclamation, the president cites God’s gifts and exhorts people to face their challenges as their predecessors did: “As Americans gather for the time-honored Thanksgiving Day meal, let us rejoice in the abundance that graces our tables, in the simple gifts that mark our days, in the loved ones who enrich our lives, and in the gifts of a gracious God. Let us recall that our forebears met their challenges with hope and an unfailing spirit, and let us resolve to do the same.”
The full text of his declaration, and those of other presidents, is available at the Pilgrim Hall Museum website
, which provides a chronicle of all declarations dating back to the country’s beginning. Pilgrim Hall acknowledges that such proclamations are as much a part of the nation’s fabric as green bean casserole, although the actual declaration of the day as a holiday came from President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
For the record, Obama pardoned two 21-week-old, 45-pound turkeys this morning in the 63rd annual ceremony: Apple and its alternate Cider. The names were chosen from over 200 submissions from California school children who participated in The Golden State’s Agriculture in the Classroom program where they learned about how the National Thanksgiving Turkey was raised.
After the pardoning festivities in the Rose Garden, Apple and Cider are being driven to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens for display during “Christmas at Mount Vernon” through Jan. 6. After the holidays, they will live in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon’s nationally recognized livestock facility.
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