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Postcard from the Past - 1918 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Written by Dick Perue

With World War I just ending and a nation in need of healing, President Woodrow Wilson issued the following proclamation, which was published in the Nov. 21, 1918, issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

“It has long been our custom to turn in the autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation. This year we have special and moving praise to be grateful and to rejoice. God has in His good pleasure given us peace. It has not come as a mere cessation of arms, a mere relief from the strain and tragedy of war. It has come as a great triumph of right.

“Complete victory has brought us not peace alone but the confident promise of a new day as well in which justice shall replace force and jealous intrigue among the nations.

“Our gallant armies have participated in a triumph which is not marred or stained by any purpose of selfish aggression. In a righteous cause, they have won immortal glory and have nobly served their nation in serving mankind.

“God has indeed been gracious. We have cause for such rejoicing as revives and strengthens in us all the best traditions of our national history. A new day shines about us in which our hearts take new courage and look forward with new hope to new and greater duties.

“While we render thanks for these things, let us not forget to seek the divine guidance in the performance of those duties and divine mercy and forgiveness for all errors of act and purpose and pray that in all we do we shall strengthen the ties of friendship and mutual respect upon which we must assist to build the new structure of peace and good will among the nations.

“Wherefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States of American, do hereby designate Thursday, the 28th day of November (1918) next, as a day of thanksgiving and prayer and invite the people throughout the land to cease on that day from their ordinary occupations and in their several homes and places of worship to render thanks to God, the Ruler of Nations . . .”

Next week, we’ll continue the story of Charley Smith and Chico from Henry Seton-Karr’s stories of a Wyoming ranch.