His remarks were void of any religious references although Thanksgiving is a holiday traditionally steeped in giving thanks and praise to God.
The president said his family was “reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.”
For many Americans, though, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on how blessed and thankful they are.
The president said the “most American of blessings” is the “chance to determine our own destiny.”
He called the very first Thanksgiving a “celebration of community”
“We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay,” he said. “This sense of mutual responsibility – the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper – has always been a part of what makes our country special.”
The president said that belief is “one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition has endured.”
But nowhere in the 11-paragraph address does he mention the Almighty.
Instead, he references the Civil War, two World Wars, and the Great Depression – noting that “Americans drew strength from each other.”
However, President Abraham Lincoln said the nation drew its strength from God. He declared as much in his 1863 Thanksgiving Day proclamation:
“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.”
President Obama told the nation in his address that if they support each other and look out for each other, “and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time.”
You can read President Obama’s entire address below:
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Thursday, November 24, 2011
The White House
From my family to yours, I’d like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Like millions of Americans, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will spend the day eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.
As Americans, each of us has our own list of things and people to be thankful for. But there are some blessings we all share.
We’re especially grateful for the men and women who defend our country overseas. To all the service members eating Thanksgiving dinner far from your families: the American people are thinking of you today. And when you come home, we intend to make sure that we serve you as well as you’re serving America.
We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay. This sense of mutual responsibility – the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper – has always been a part of what makes our country special. And it’s one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition has endured.
The very first Thanksgiving was a celebration of community during a time of great hardship, and we have followed that example ever since. Even when the fate of our union was far from certain – during a Civil War, two World Wars, a Great Depression – Americans drew strength from each other. They had faith that tomorrow would be better than today.
We’re grateful that they did. As we gather around the table, we pause to remember the pilgrims, pioneers, and patriots who helped make this country what it is. They faced impossible odds, and yet somehow, they persevered. Today, it’s our turn.
I know that for many of you, this Thanksgiving is more difficult than most. But no matter how tough things are right now, we still give thanks for that most American of blessings, the chance to determine our own destiny. The problems we face didn’t develop overnight, and we won’t solve them overnight. But we will solve them. All it takes is for each of us to do our part.
With all the partisanship and gridlock here in Washington, it’s easy to wonder if such unity is really possible. But think about what’s happening at this very moment: Americans from all walks of life are coming together as one people, grateful for the blessings of family, community, and country.
If we keep that spirit alive, if we support each other, and look out for each other, and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time.
So today, I’m thankful to serve as your President and Commander-and-Chief. I’m thankful that my daughters get to grow up in this great country of ours. And I’m thankful for the chance to do my part, as together, we make tomorrow better than today.
Thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.