Tomorrow when the sun rises it will be Thanksgiving Day in America. However, I believe it is time to ask ourselves exactly what are we giving thanks for? About 200 years after the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated we became a nation. The Declaration of Independence declared that “all men are created equal.”
Now over 200 years later we are still questioning our commitment to that phrase. Do we all really consider that “all men are created equal”? Our history does not even pretend that phrase has been followed by our own government.
At the time of our revolutionary war we held slaves. We continued to hold slaves for another 100 years until the Civil War. We “resettled” all Native Americans from the east coast to the Oklahoma territory because we didn’t want those “savages” living among the nice white people who lived in the 13 states.
In the second half of the 1800s we basically conducted a war of genocide against all Native Americans. It was our intention to wipe them out so it would be easier to steal their land. Even when the Sioux signed the Fort Laramie treaty in 1851, the government broke that treaty in a very short period of time.
One of the areas that was ceded to the Sioux Tribes was the Black Hills. That was very sacred land to the Native Americans. Problem was gold was discovered there, and the government stole the land back from the Sioux. That was the impetus for the so-called Indian Wars.
In the meantime, back east the Jim Crow era was beginning. Segregation was the mantra for the southern states. That era lasted up to the 1960s when the Civil Rights Law and the Voting Rights Law were passed.
We have gone through periods of true anti-immigrant policies and hatreds. We have seen people discriminated against for things like intra-racial marriages, same-sex marriages, intra-religious marriages, and a host of other things.
The irony is that if the Native Americans did not assist the first settlers when they landed here from Europe, they would have starved to death. They had no clue about agriculture in this country. It was Native Americans who taught them the three sisters of farming here, corn, beans and squash. Without this lesson, the settlers would have failed.
Without the evils of slavery, the south would never have flourished economically. Their economic success was built on the backs of slaves. Immigrants have also improved our country economically. These are simple facts.
Today, are we seeing the nation that believes in “all men are created equal” or have we regressed back to the “bad ole days”. When you sit down to eat your Thanksgiving Day meal, there will be Native Americans on the front line to protect the water in the Missouri River from another polluting pipeline.
They will be tear gassed again. They will have rubber bullets shot at them. They will have water cannons spray them with water in freezing temperatures again. The irony is that they aren’t just protecting their water, they are protecting the water of up to 71 million people who get their water from the river.
As you eat your meal, there will be more hate crimes committed against Muslims, African-Americans, Jews and gays. Hate filled graffiti will be spray painted on synagogues, mosques, black churches, schools, and playgrounds. It will include slurs and swastikas.
We will have white supremacists do their Nazi salute when they sit down to eat their dinner. We will have elderly people eating alone and they won’t be eating turkey. We will have homeless people looking for a warm place to sleep.
This is not to say that everything is wrong with America. It is a fantastic country, but it does have its problems. And, those problems are not the direct fault of minorities, elderly, Native Americans, Muslims, Jews, or any other group. They are societal problems that are caused by a lack of interest in what is right by too many people.
As we finish our desert we will have service members all over the world serving us and protecting us from our enemies. They may or may not have a turkey dinner. That will depend on where they are. But, they will be ready in a second to place themselves in danger for us. Yet, most of us won’t even think of them.
This will be my 66th Thanksgiving Day. I will have some of my family around me for the day. I will enjoy the day with these family members and will make sure to call the rest of them.
However, I will remember our service members, especially since I know first-hand what it is to serve away from your family on days like this. I will also remember everyone else who is less fortunate than I am. I will especially be watching what happens at Standing Rock.
It has been my wish that one day we will all truly be able to celebrate Thanksgiving Day properly. We will be able to do that when we all adhere to the promise that “all men are created equal” understanding that also includes women.
We will have a true Thanksgiving Day when there is no longer any bigotry, hatred, and fear-mongering in our political discourse. We will have a true Thanksgiving Day when we look at all of our citizens as equals under the law. We will have a true Thanksgiving Day when our society removes the tainted glasses that allow us to see “differences” instead of similarities in each other.
Thanksgiving Day should be the day we celebrate “e Pluribus Unum” From Many One. Americans are a unique people on the planet. But, that uniqueness is in all of us regardless of race, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. It is the blending of all of these differences in our people and nation that makes us unique.
I sure hope that we will soon be able to celebrate that true Thanksgiving Day. We will all be better off when we can. Until then, I hope you all have a good day with family and friends.