11/9/2010 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Pilgrims landed in the New World in the winter of 1621. We celebrate their arrival in our history classes and their survival at our Thanksgiving tables every year, but how often do we consider their struggle to survive and their faith that saw them through?
Of the 109 Pilgrims hat landed that day, almost half were dead before the next fall. In fact, only five wives had survived that first year. A harsh, cold winter, starvation, Indian raids and sickness had taken its toll on these people. They didn't have a food court, commissary or dining facility. In fact, they didn't have food at all except what they could catch or produce themselves. They had no clothes except the few they had brought, and no clothing allowance to ensure they never went naked. They had no dorms, no base housing and no basic housing allowance to ensure they had a roof over their heads. They had no government pension and no Thrift Savings Account for their golden years. They had no money to buy life's necessities and nowhere to spend it if they had. It was a challenge and a struggle just to survive.
Yet, the following proclamation was made in 1623 by the first Governor of the Colony, Governor William Bradford, two years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth:
To all ye Pilgrims,
Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with ye wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
Did you catch that? They were to gather for three hours to express their thankfulness to God. In the present circumstances, it was their faith in God that made them truly a grateful people; grateful to be alive and grateful to be free.
Are you a grateful person? Thanksgiving Day is almost here. The one day in which we, like those early Pilgrims, set aside time in our busy schedules to give thanks. But many of you may be wondering, "How can I be grateful in my present circumstances?" I think the answer is to adopt the proper perspective - the Pilgrim Perspective.
Let me ask again, are you a grateful person? If not, gain the Pilgrim Perspective. Be grateful you are alive and free. America declares to the world that you have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And for this, we can all be truly thankful.
God bless America and have a Happy Thanksgiving!