Thanksgiving is a longstanding tradition in our lives as well as American history. The holiday goes back to the beginning of colonial times, but took almost two and a half centuries to become a national holiday.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in September, 1620. Obviously, at such a late point in the year they struggled to survive throughout the next year because of a lack of food. Fortunately for the new settlers, the Abnaki Indians of the area helped them understand how to grow and harvest food in the New World. Although the Pilgrims continued to struggle, those who survived decided to celebrate the fall harvest of 1621 and invited their neighbors. Harvest festivals go back to ancient times and were common throughout Europe in the Pilgrims' time. It is hard for us to imagine today, but famine was on the doorstep of most people until very recent times.
Various thanksgiving-type celebrations were held throughout the colonies and in the early states. The Continental Congress called for a day of thanksgiving for the patriot victory at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Subsequently, George Washington called for a day of thanksgiving in 1789 for the ratification of the Constitution. In 1817, New York proclaimed an annual Thanksgiving Day, and other states followed suit. In 1863, and in an effort to boost the morale of the Union troops, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving day. After the Civil War, Congress made this a yearly celebration in November. Franklin Roosevelt moved the date up one week to appease retailers as Christmas shopping traditionally goes into high gear the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday).
NOTES: I had the privilege to attend two USDA Rural Development award events in the 51st District this week. At the first, I joined Mt. Leonard Board Chairman Merle Trelow along with other board members, USDA employees, Senator David Pearce of the 21st Senatorial District (includes Johnson and Saline Counties), as well as representatives from US Senator Roy Blunt's office and Representative Emanuel Cleaver's office. The award included a grant and a loan to obtain equipment for Mt. Leonard's tractor to aid in snow removal and mowing.
The second stop occurred in Marshall at the Saline County E-911 Center. This award included a refinancing loan that will save the district tens of thousands of dollars annually. This is an important loan that will allow the E-911 services in Saline County to continue to grow and provide emergency response services.
Finally, last week I had the privilege of joining several other state representatives on a tour of Fort Leonard Wood. Fort Wood is a huge base with the main missions of training in military policing, combating chemical warfare and hazards, and engineering. The base is vital to keeping our armed forces (all train at the base) trained and prepared for several contingencies. With the looming budget cuts of the current, and increasing sequester, all Missouri military operations are under review. It is important for our national defense to keep our troops well trained and well equipped. Missouri is certainly military friendly, and they are friendly to us contributing almost $40 billion of economic activity to our state.
With that I'll wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City and Missouri. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working me to make Missouri a great place to live.