WASHINGTON – President Trump's first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation released Friday stands in stark contrast to eight issued by his predecessor Barack Obama from 2009 to 2016.
Trump invoked God six times in his first proclamation, emphasizing an American tradition whose inspiration comes from the Bible. The word "thanksgiving" is found 29 times in the King James Bible – always with the "thanks" directed to the Almighty Creator.
By contrast, Obama's eight annual separate proclamations during his years in office referenced God a total of five times, excluding quotes he referenced from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
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Trump left no ambiguity about to whom thanks should be directed in his very first sentence in the 2017 proclamation: "On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings."
He added the following references:
One people, we seek God's protection, guidance, and wisdom, as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great Nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith."
"I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings."
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Trump also quoted Washington and Lincoln, both of whom directed thanks to God in their proclamations.
By contrast, Obama repeatedly, over his eight years, suggested the American tradition that began with the Pilgrims of Plymouth was a harvest festival in which thanks were offered only to the native American Wampanoag tribe. Trump, on the other hand, noted that the Pilgrims' celebration offered thanks to God: "In thanks to God for these blessings, the new governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and gathered with the Wampanoag tribe for three days of celebration."
In Obama's first Thanksgiving proclamation in 2009, he did not personally invoke God, but only quoted Washington: "Today, we recall President George Washington, who proclaimed our first national day of public thanksgiving to be observed 'by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.'" He added quickly: "We also recognize the contributions of Native Americans, who helped the early colonists survive their first harsh winter and continue to strengthen our Nation."
In government schools today, it is often taught that the genesis of the Thanksgiving Day celebration in America was an expression of thanks by the Pilgrims to the native Americans.
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Rather than encouraging Americans to express their gratitude to God during Thanksgiving, Obama offered this counsel in 2009: "I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year; to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own; and to share our bounty with others."
In 2010, Obama's proclamation began like this: "A beloved American tradition, Thanksgiving Day offers us the opportunity to focus our thoughts on the grace that has been extended to our people and our country. This spirit brought together the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe – who had been living and thriving around Plymouth, Massachusetts for thousands of years – in an autumn harvest feast centuries ago. This Thanksgiving Day, we reflect on the compassion and contributions of Native Americans, whose skill in agriculture helped the early colonists survive, and whose rich culture continues to add to our Nation's heritage. We also pause our normal pursuits on this day and join in a spirit of fellowship and gratitude for the year's bounties and blessings."
The notion that the Wampanoag tribe had thousands of years of prosperity in Plymouth prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 is not only multiculturalist conjecture, but provably false.
Beginning five years before the Pilgrims arrived, the Wampanoag suffered an epidemic, long suspected to be smallpox. Recent research has suggested that it was leptospirosis. It caused a high fatality rate that nearly wiped out the tribe.
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Obama concluded that 2010 proclamation as follows: "I encourage all the people of the United States to come together – whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors – to give thanks for all we have received in the past year, to express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and to share our bounty with others."
"The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season," he said. "The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. We take this time to remember the ways that the First Americans have enriched our Nation's heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. As we come together with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us."
He also paid tribute to God: "As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come."
"On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year," he said. "This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives."
He added: "On Thanksgiving Day, individuals from all walks of life come together to celebrate this most American tradition, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country. Let us spend this day by lifting up those we love, mindful of the grace bestowed upon us by God and by all who have made our lives richer with their presence."
In 2013, Obama again paid tribute to God: "This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God."
But in his 2014 proclamation there was one reference to God. Then, in 2015, there were only references to God in quotes from Washington and Lincoln. By 2016 even the quotes from Washington and Lincoln had been scrubbed, leaving no mention of the Almighty.
Below is Trump's complete official 2017 Thanksgiving Proclamation as released by the White House:
THANKSGIVING DAY, 2017
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On Thanksgiving Day, as we have for nearly four centuries, Americans give thanks to Almighty God for our abundant blessings. We gather with the people we love to show gratitude for our freedom, for our friends and families, and for the prosperous Nation we call home.
In July 1620, more than 100 Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, fleeing religious persecution and seeking freedom and opportunity in a new and unfamiliar place. These dauntless souls arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the freezing cold of December 1620. They were greeted by sickness and severe weather, and quickly lost 46 of their fellow travelers. Those who endured the incredible hardship of their first year in America, however, had many reasons for gratitude. They had survived. They were free. And, with the help of the Wampanoag tribe, and a bountiful harvest, they were regaining their health and strength. In thanks to God for these blessings, the new governor of the Plymouth Colony, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and gathered with the Wampanoag tribe for three days of celebration.
For the next two centuries, many individual colonies and states, primarily in the Northeast, carried on the tradition of fall Thanksgiving festivities. But each state celebrated it on a different day, and sometime on an occasional basis. It was not until 1863 that the holiday was celebrated on one day, nationwide. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest battles of our Nation's Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the country would set aside one day to remember its many blessings. "In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity," President Lincoln proclaimed, we recall the "bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come." As President Lincoln recognized: "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."
Today, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with a grateful and charitable spirit. When we open our hearts and extend our hands to those in need, we show humility for the bountiful gifts we have received. In the aftermath of a succession of tragedies that have stunned and shocked our Nation – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria; the wildfires that ravaged the West; and, the horrific acts of violence and terror in Las Vegas, New York City, and Sutherland Springs – we have witnessed the generous nature of the American people. In the midst of heartache and turmoil, we are grateful for the swift action of the first responders, law enforcement personnel, military and medical professionals, volunteers, and everyday heroes who embodied our infinite capacity to extend compassion and humanity to our fellow man. As we mourn these painful events, we are ever confident that the perseverance and optimism of the American people will prevail.
We can see, in the courageous Pilgrims who stood on Plymouth Rock in new land, the intrepidness that lies at the core of our American spirit. Just as the Pilgrims did, today Americans stand strong, willing to fight for their families and their futures, to uphold our values, and to confront any challenge.
This Thanksgiving, in addition to rejoicing in precious time spent with loved ones, let us find ways to serve and encourage each other in both word and deed. We also offer a special word of thanks for the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, many of whom must celebrate this holiday separated from the ones for whom they are most thankful. As one people, we seek God's protection, guidance, and wisdom as we stand humbled by the abundance of our great Nation and the blessings of freedom, family, and faith.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2017, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.
DONALD J. TRUMP