The most American holiday

26 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Descendants thankful for Mayflower ties.

This week, as we gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving, it is time to open a conversation, one that acknowledges more truthfully the injustices, past and present, in the Thanksgiving stories we tell.

They were the first immigrants to come to America fleeing persecution—and their spirit of gratitude is also an obligation that extends forward throughout the generations.For most of us, the Pilgrims are figures of legend and lore, vaguely remembered from elementary school lessons as those people who arrived from England on the Mayflower almost 400 years ago and had something to do with Thanksgiving. “It makes Thanksgiving more than just a fancy turkey dinner,” said Ray Raser, an officer with the San Diego Colony of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. “It becomes a history that you feel a part of.” Genealogists believe there may be 30 million people worldwide descended from the Mayflower passengers, but only 29,000 are society members.I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.This upcoming Thanksgiving Day is sure to offer you and your family plenty of opportunities to argue over whether America should be welcoming Syrian refugees. In the centuries that have passed since the Pilgrims first dined with the Wampanoag at Plymouth, the gulf separating Native and non-Native Americans has become huge, thanks to war, disease, genocide and countless harmful policies inflicted on Natives.

Long before Syrians fled ISIS and Jews fled the Nazis and Irish fled the famine, the Puritans fled persecution to become the original refugees to alight on our shores. While we think of feasting at tables filled with food and drink, and imagine the Pilgrims in Plymouth Colony inviting neighboring Indians to join them to celebrate a plentiful harvest, Thanksgiving Day has a much more religious meaning. If you have any liberal relatives or friends coming over for your Thursday feast, they’re going to relish the chance to tell everyone that the Pilgrims were refugees too — and hope that statement decimates all opposing view points.

In gratitude for having found refuge and for the assistance they received from the Native Americans after landing at Plymouth Rock, the Puritans we call Pilgrims held what we know as the first Thanksgiving. “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors… many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted,” wrote Edward Winslow of that gathering in November of 1621. “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” By then, another Pilgrim family, the Whites, had achieved what would be the dream of refugees through the centuries to come: to have a child born in America. And so it was until President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1939, temporarily moved the celebration back to the third Thursday in November to stimulate Depression-era Christmas sales. Many left-wing publications and pundits are doing their utmost to promote this line in order to generate support for America taking in thousands of Syrian refugees. In 1671, the governing council of Charlestown, Mass., proclaimed June 29 “as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favor.” Annually from 1777 through 1784, as the American colonists fought for their independence, the Continental Congress issued proclamations each fall, calling for days of “public thanksgiving and praise” and “humble supplication” to Almighty God. Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear.

New York City is the urban area with the most Native Americans, but at 111,749 residents, Natives make up less than 2 percent of the country’s largest city. It’s easier than it used to be, thanks to various Internet search services, but it still takes time and persistence to trace back through a dozen or more ancestors — to get past parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, past both world wars, past the Civil War, past even the Revolutionary War. The challenging part accelerates these days through harsh words of the politically correct who see only the faults and flaws of those who brought civilization to these shores. In 1789, the first year of his presidency, George Washington designated Thursday, Nov. 26 as a day for “prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations” both in thanksgiving for his “signal and manifold mercies” and to request him to “pardon our national and other transgressions.” President James Madison proclaimed days of prayer and fasting three times during the War of 1812. We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day. . .

If it wasn’t for the Syrian refugee debate, sites like HuffPo, Salon and others would be running their usual “Happy Genocide Day” coverage and dumping vitriol on the poor settlers who forged this nation. Absent contact with actual Natives, most Americans are left with negative images that are mired in myths from the past, such as feathered headdresses and tomahawks, and tainted with more recent stereotypes, such as casinos and alcoholism. In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country’s story. The “Indian” mascots displayed so proudly by sports teams such as the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks perpetuate caricatures that are inaccurate and hurtful.

Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday — whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams — but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. The term was not used maliciously, but the word took on a life of its own and changing it was to clarify, not to divide, though it remains controversial. The ranks through the years have included the famous (Julia Child, Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Hugh Hefner) and the powerful (Presidents Adams, Bush, Grant, Roosevelt). I had been welcomed warmly by a handful of Native Americans on the Menominee reservation, during the early stages of what has become a decades-long collaboration involving Northwestern University, where I am a professor, and Native communities. The clarification of nomenclature expanded to a call for hyphenating all Americans, accentuating identity that sets us apart rather than looking at what links us.

But the “illegal” part gets tagged on from “stealing” the land from the natives… which, if the left wants to believe that, undermines the whole refugee thesis. With more than 300 members, San Diego County is home to one of the largest and most active Mayflower groups in California, which in turn has the second largest state society in the country. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Nov. 26, 2015, as a National Day of Thanksgiving.

As they reached the Plymouth Rock on 11th December, after sailing for a little over two months they were unable to proceed towards their ultimate destination. Elders at the 21st century Thanksgiving table yearn for conversations inclusive of the ideals once depicted on the magazine covers of the Saturday Evening Post, reflecting traditions that bring us together. Norman Rockwell’s illustrations of the Four Freedoms, articulated by Franklin Roosevelt, was not necessarily multicultural, but it symbolized the values that brought waves of immigrants to us. And let us ever be mindful of the faith and spiritual values that have made our Nation great and that alone can keep us great.” In 2004, President George W. When they came to Plymouth, these settlers had to do the very difficult task of creating entirely new communities in a strange land — largely all by themselves.

Today we can enjoy Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey and cornbread dressing, as the Pilgrims did, or tofu turkey stuffed with quinoa, with sides of spicy kimchi, Brussels sprouts with chorizo, cranberries in hoisin sauce or even Grandma’s mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. Saturday, they gathered at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for an annual meeting celebrating the anniversary of the Mayflower Compact, the document that framed how the fledgling settlement (and eventually the United States) would be governed. It’s hard to be a refugee claiming asylum when you’re crossing an ocean to a land that’s largely unsettled and is a more dangerous place than where you hail from. On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God.” President Obama has continued the tradition, at least ceremonially. There was little refuge to be had in this untamed country for the Pilgrims — especially considering how many new arrivals died in the months upon hitting shore due to disease and other harsh living conditions. (RELATED: It’s ‘Un-American’ To Impose Refugee Resettlement On The Country) This statement is an obvious fact when you consider the facts of life in seventeenth-century America.

After looking at their mascot, a young Native child leaned over to her mother and asked, “Why don’t I look like an Indian?” This Thanksgiving, non-Native Americans can begin to change these attitudes. His proclamations frequently refer to God obliquely through a statement about George Washington’s or Abraham Lincoln’s gratitude to the Almighty, or to express praise to the Wampanoag Indians for aiding the Pilgrims. The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian offers an inspiring entry point, providing a wealth of material designed for children and adults on its website. For Jews, memories of the suffering of forefathers in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, and then the Holocaust, remind us to count the blessings of America even as we mourn the murder of our brothers and sisters.

They scraped by on their modest savings until they got work permits. “Before, I thought life must be ending,” the mother says. “You always have to have hope and stand up on your feet and work and you will fulfill a lot.” As they neared their first holiday season in America, the son went with his third-grade class on a field trip to Plymouth Rock. No immigrant is untouched by the history that brought him here, whether of human intolerance and cruelty or the wrath of nature delivering scarcity and famine. As long as the people as a whole have not rejected all public reference to God nor abandoned religious practices, and if principles based on religious teachings continue to regulate their societal behavior, it will be possible to maintain a spirit of virtue to advance the well-being of our republic and its populace.

Almost 50 people died that first winter, victims of disease, malnutrition and the elements, and by the next fall, the survivors felt a need to count their blessings. Even though there’s a stated requirement that the refugees must pay back the feds for the free ticket once they start working, 91 percent of these individuals go straight onto government assistance upon arrival — with 68 percent on welfare. Among the best-known examples are the Native American Code Talkers, who served in World War I and II, employing indigenous languages to relay messages without being understood by enemy forces. While we enjoy the camaraderie and festivities of the day, do not forget its central purpose — to thank God for His innumerable blessings on us, our families and our nation.

By 1636, the colonists were engaged in brutal warfare with the Pequot Confederation and eventually came into conflict the Wampanoag — the Indians who participated in the historical Thanksgiving feast — in the coming years. What an expression of faith it would be if everyone could begin the day with an act of recognition of God, attend a church service, say more than a superficial prayer, and perhaps, just perhaps, decline that extra piece of pie. They left Syria because they were just seeking peace and a life for their kids.” She could have been talking about the Pilgrims her son learned about when he visited Plymouth Rock.

Other immigrants confronted anger and frustration from Americans who feared the new arrivals would take their jobs, or change the American way of life. “The melting pot,” coined as a simple metaphor to unify us, often had indigestible lumps in the stew. Any American who might be worried by these new arrivals can face castigation by a biased media and powerful political leaders — such as our own president. We’re not, as the president glibly suggested, “scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States.” As numerous officials in Congress, the military, the FBI and the CIA have testified, the vetting process needs work.

But then she took a trip with her father and her sister to Massachusetts in the 1990s, to visit places he knew growing up, and they came across family names in museums and genealogy books. Marco Rubio, a child of Cuban immigrants, observed correctly that if only one in a thousand is coming to take his place in an ISIS sleeper cell, “you have a problem.” We won’t settle the current immigration problem during the holidays, but we ought to “pause,” as House Speaker Paul Ryan argues, for a debate and to work on vetting of the arriving migrants.

Let’s continue this trend on Thanksgiving by opening a conversation that links us more truthfully to our past and brings us clearer insight into the present. Thanksgiving day special recipe: Pear Pie Download the all new Zee News app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with latest headlines and news stories in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, Business and much more from India and around the world. Shiloff has been trying to find links to another prized Mayflower ancestor, Stephen Hopkins, who is believed to have been at Jamestown before he was at Plymouth — a New World two-fer.

Today, that nation that was forged by Pilgrims and other transplants from the British Isles is saying no to the idea of taking in more Syrian refugees. But this is still a special time of the year for them, and some make a point during their family feasts to acknowledge the early days of the tradition they are enjoying. “All these years we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving in this country and in our family, and to learn we have a personal connection to it — that’s still amazing to me,” said Budd Leef, who lives in Rancho Peñasquitos. When he was finished, his mother said, “Do mine now.” Leef wasn’t thrilled about another long slog through official records, but the family already had paperwork going back five generations. He went on the Internet and in less than two days found a Pilgrim connection. “I was so excited I woke my wife up at 1 in the morning to tell her,” he said.

Some get so fascinated with it all that they take trips to Plymouth or go to England and Holland to see where the Pilgrims started. “It gives you an appreciation for the price they paid and the harrowing journey across the ocean,” said Raser, the colony’s corresponding secretary and former governor. He remembers walking the places where Brewster was born and lived and visiting the cell where he was imprisoned for his religious beliefs. “It was a very unique feeling,” Raser said. “I felt like I belonged on that ground.”

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