Throughout our great land, Thanksgiving is celebrated today.
It is a uniquely American holiday, in which the purpose of the occasion has not been subordinated to materialism. It's a time for food, fun, family and fellowship.
Certainly, in many homes there will be roast turkey, homemade dressing, real mashed potatoes, the traditional cranberry sauce and delectable pumpkin pie. But the very presence of such bounty - even in homes where it is limited - reminds us we have much for which to be thankful to our God.
Our Thanksgiving is traced back to English colonists before this was a United States, during a time when they faced trials and tribulations of a gravity few of us can even imagine. Even then, when survival was a question, our ancestors gave thanks.
Later, when a Thanksgiving proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln set the stage for the official holiday, sorrow and uncertainty were present in many homes. We were in the midst of the most costly, trying time in our history.
Then, as was the case at that earlier, informal Thanksgiving, thoughtful Americans reflected not just on trouble, but also on the blessings that helped them weather the storm. And they were profoundly grateful for this land of boundless opportunity and beauty - like none other on earth.
As our nation matured, even during bloody times of growth such as the Civil War, it became evident there was more for which to be thankful. As Lincoln pointed out, the people of America had crafted a truly wonderful society, government and economy.
Even those in homes where Thanksgiving was celebrated with empty chairs - too often permanently - it was evident to many that Lincoln was right. Our nation - and that means our people, not the land or the government - truly is something very special.
This Thanksgiving, we the people face many uncertainties. Too many of our neighbors cannot find the jobs they desire. The war continues in Afghanistan. Terrorism remains a threat. We worry about the cost and intrusiveness of government.
Yet amid all of this, we can and should thank God for the blessing of being Americans - as well as for the goodness He showers upon us as individuals and families. Today, then, we bow our heads in humble gratitude.