The Thanksgiving holiday always seems to take on deeper meaning during and after hard times. Such has been the case since its inception in 1621 at Plymouth, Massachusetts, when colonists from England, best known as the Pilgrims, sat down with local Native American tribes to share an autumn feast in celebration of their first successful corn harvest. The Pilgrims were simply grateful to be alive after suffering malnutrition and other illnesses after arriving in America.
In the decades after that first Thanksgiving, feasts of Thanksgiving continued to be celebrated by citizens of the New England colonies. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated days of thanksgiving, and in 1789, newly elected President George Washington issued a proclamation calling for Americans to set aside days of thanks for victory in the war and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. But it wasn’t until 1863 during another difficult time in our nation’s history — the Civil War — that it became a national holiday, thanks to the nearly 40-year campaign of Sarah Josepha Hale, a noted magazine editor and the “Mother of Thanksgiving.” The date was set as the final Thursday of November by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, who stated he hoped the holiday would help heal the wounds of the nation.
In 1939, during the Great Depression, then President Franklin Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week with the notion of boosting the economy during the Christmas shopping season. The move was not popular, however, as 16 states continued with the traditional date “leaving the country with dueling Thanksgivings,” according to history.com. In the fall of 1941, not long before the United States would enter World War II, Congress approved a resolution returning the holiday to the fourth Thursday of November.
Jump ahead to 2020 where we find ourselves battling COVID-19, the worst health crisis in more than 100 years. It has been a year of unprecedented change in our daily lives and in the workplace. Historians have said we are in the most challenging time since World War II, which claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans and millions of other servicemen/women and civilians across the globe.
At Craighead Electric Co-op, we have made necessary workplace changes designed to keep our employees and members safe during the pandemic while we continue our mission to provide you with affordable and reliable power. And we don’t take that mission lightly or for granted. We are more grateful than ever to be able to serve you as a part of a unified network of electric cooperatives that serve more than 1 million members in Arkansas and 42 million nationwide.
On Nov. 26, as we mark yet another Thanksgiving holiday, may the turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie be as good or better than what your mother made all those years ago. May the football games once again stir excitement and prompt cheers. And, most important, may your gratitude list be long.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Craighead Electric Co-op.