HAPPY THANKSGIVING from FDR, 1933
As a nation engaged in the longest-running war we have ever waged, and with unemployment being at one of its worst points in modern history, it is meaningful to look back to another difficult era in this country’s history, and consider why Thanksgiving Day is celebrated–and what our President felt we had to be grateful for in 1933.
President Roosevelt’s message is as meaningful for us on Thanksgiving Day, 2009, as it was for our grandparents and great-grandparents in 1933.
THANKSGIVING DAY, 1933
By the President of the United States of America:
I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do set aside and appoint Thursday, the thirtieth day of November 1933, to be a Day of Thanksgiving for all our people.
May we on that day in our churches and in our homes give humble thanks for the blessings bestowed upon us during the year past by Almighty God. May we recall the courage of those who settled a wilderness, the vision of those who founded the Nation, the steadfastness of those who in every succeeding generation have fought to keep pure the ideal of equality of opportunity and hold clear the goal of mutual help in time of prosperity as in time of adversity.
May we ask guidance in more surely learning the ancient truth that greed and selfishness and striving for undue riches can never bring lasting happiness or good to the individual or to his neighbors.
May we be grateful for the passing of dark days; for the new spirit of dependence one on another; for the closer unity of all parts of our wide land; for the greater friendship between employers and those who toil; for a clearer knowledge by all nations that we seek no conquests and ask only honorable engagements by all peoples to respect the lands and rights of their neighbors; for the brighter day to which we can win through by seeking the help of God in a more unselfish striving for the common bettering of mankind.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and thirty-three and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and fifty-eighth.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Editor’s Note: Norman Rockwell’s illustration, “Freedom from Want,” was inspired by FDR’s 1941 speech outlining four freedoms. For more on the depiction of Thanksgivings of the past, and further info on Rockwell’s classic Thanksgiving illustration, please read: