BISMARCK – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND, released the following Thanksgiving Day message:
“Thanksgiving takes on a new level of celebration for my family and me this year. We recently learned that I am a direct descendant of Pilgrims. In fact, I had three ancestors aboard the Mayflower when she arrived in the New World in 1620, including my 10th great-grandfather, Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony. That first winter in Plymouth Colony was brutal, taking the lives of half of the new citizens. In the face of such incredible hardship, the early colonists were keenly aware of their complete dependence on God.
“The following spring the Pilgrims, along with help from their Indian friends, planted crops that yielded an abundant harvest. On December 13, 1621, the Pilgrims instituted a three-day feast of thanksgiving to God and celebrated with their Indian friends.
“In his famous chronicle, ‘Of Plymouth Plantation,’ Governor Bradford wrote, ‘Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are.’
“On October 3, 1789, years later, George Washington issued a proclamation creating the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America, to be celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1789. President Washington’s proclamation began with these words, ‘Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.’ On October 3, 1863, at the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation that said ‘I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.’
“Thanksgiving has been celebrated in the United States ever since. It became law on November 26, 1941, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in America.
“Friends, we are the most blessed of nations, rich in resources provided by God’s almighty hand. I hope on this Thanksgiving Day, you take a moment with your family to reflect on all God has provided you and bend a knee and bow your head and let Him know how grateful you are. Happy Thanksgiving!”