Inspiration in The History of Thanksgiving and Abraham Lincoln

Written by: Ron Scheese

2020 has been unlike any other year in my now nearly six decades of living. The COVID-19 pandemic produces uncertainty and stress in our daily routines. We have all been impacted by this virus as well as the societal, economic and political news cycle which seems far more discouraging than encouraging.

In moments of self-doubt and fatigue this past year, I found my inspiration in historical moments; reflections on others who have endured long periods of stress and uncertainty. A month before he delivered the Gettysburg Address, during the height of the Civil War, when the outcome of that conflict was anything but certain, President Abraham Lincoln issued the following beautiful and flowing reflection. This proclamation established the holiday we today, honor and celebrate as Thanksgiving:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

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 Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

“That he could find positivity, tranquility and hope in the midst of a great war and summon a nation to gratitude is simply amazing.”- Ron Scheese

In this season of Covid-19 the outcome is anything but certain. With a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on the things for which I am most grateful:

A talented group of 190 dedicated colleagues who work to make Andesa Services successful. I am grateful for their tireless dedication to bring value to our clients and serve each other. They set an extraordinary example of what #ItStartsWithMe means: living our values and pursuing our Andesa Forever vision with passion. We flourish and thrive because of our employees. Thank you!

The life insurance industry is a noble industry. The values of our clients align with Andesa’s values resulting in a spirit of mutual trust and respect. I am grateful for the client relationships we create which provide meaningful, collaborative and mutually beneficial work. Thank you for trusting your service and solution success with us.

I am grateful for essential workers, healthcare professionals, teachers, first responders, etc.; the unsung heroes whom we often overlook until we have needs. Despite the challenges we all face, this time is also bringing out the best in some people, That it would take a crisis for us to acknowledge their worth and appreciate their sacrifice and contribution is a reflection on us, not on them.

I am grateful for family. Through the ups and downs, highs and lows of life, I am grateful for the support, inspiration, honesty, feedback, encouragement and love.

The crisis calls to mind that some of my greatest moments of personal growth occurred during periods of great challenge; those moments which tested my perseverance and molded my character. These moments can be blessings and I am grateful for the hardships struggle, discomfort and despair which leads to resiliency and a stronger sense of empathy as a result.

May this season be a wonderful reminder of all the remarkable things in life. I wish you a joyful, healthy and abundant Thanksgiving.

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