WASHINGTON – Barack Obama offered his final Thanksgiving message to the American people, while President-elect Donald Trump offered his first – a contrast in both style and substance.
Obama reflected on the Wampanoag Native Americans’ welcoming treatment of the pilgrims nearly 400 years ago and suggested the story of the first Thanksgiving should serve as an example for Americans today.
“This history teaches us that the American instinct has never been to seek isolation in opposite corners; it is to find strength in our common creed and forge unity from our great diversity,” Obama said on a written statement hours before he pardoned his final turkey at the White House. “We must reflect on all we have been afforded while continuing the work of ensuring no one is left out or left behind because of who they are or where they come from.”
He added: “Each year on Thanksgiving, the selflessness and decency of the American people surface in food banks and shelters across our country, in time spent caring for the sick and the stranger, and in efforts to empathize with those with whom we disagree and to recognize that every individual is worthy of compassion and care. As we gather in the company of our friends, families, and communities — just as the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag did centuries ago — let us strive to lift up others, promote tolerance and inclusiveness, and give thanks for the joy and love that surround all of us.”
He did not mention to whom those thanks should be offered, nor did he reference prayer.
“We are very blessed to call this nation our home,” said Trump. “And that is what America is: it is our home. It’s where we raise our families, care for our loved ones, look out for our neighbors, and live out our dreams.”
He continued: “It is my prayer, that on this Thanksgiving, we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one country, strengthened by a shared purpose and very, very common resolve.”
“In declaring this national holiday, President Lincoln called upon Americans to speak with ‘one voice and one heart,'” Trump said. “That’s just what we have to do.”
His message emphasized bringing the country together after a bruising, rough-and-tumble campaign.
“We have just finished a long and bruising political campaign,” Trump offered. “Emotions are raw and tensions just don’t heal overnight. It doesn’t go quickly, unfortunately, but we have before us the chance now to make history together to bring real change to Washington, real safety to our cities, and real prosperity to our communities, including our inner cities. So important to me, and so important to our country. But to succeed, we must enlist the effort of our entire nation.”
Continuing, Trump said: “This historic political campaign is now over. Now begins a great national campaign to rebuild our country and to restore the full promise of America for all of our people. I am asking you to join me in this effort. It is time to restore the bonds of trust between citizens. Because when America is unified, there is nothing beyond our reach, and I mean absolutely nothing.”
“Let us give thanks for all that we have, and let us boldly face the exciting new frontiers that lie ahead,” he said. “Thank you. God Bless You and God Bless America.”