Here’s an “oldie but goodie”
As we prepare to punch a more comfortable notch in our belts and unleash our appetites in the annual food frenzy we call Thanksgiving, I want to make sure an important American history lesson does not go un-noticed.
This is the lesson of the turkey. Again I caution you I am talking about the bird, not a family member or other individual one might know.
Americans take great pride in our national symbol the American Eagle. What many Americans do not know is that our good friend and forefather Benjamin Franklin (known to many as lightening rod), didnt like the eagle. Benny even wrote his daughter a letter which stated, in part…”For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen to represent of our country. He (the eagle) is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the work of the Fish Hawk and when that diligent bird has taken a fish the eagle takes it from him.
In fact, Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey (the bird), not the Bald Eagle, the national bird of the United States! Could you imagine that? Just picture one of our pioneer families at the general store laying in supplies for the winter when the store clerk says that will be 13-turkeys instead of 13 gold eagles.
Let’s pause to giggle amongst ourselves.
I’m sorry to say that after the first official Thanksgiving in 1621, it took over 200 years before Thanksgiving Day was officially proclaimed as a national day of thanksgiving in 1863.
Let’s regress a bit. It seems that Native Americans way back in 1492 recognized the funny looking folk from across the pond wearing buckles on their shoes needed a little help feeding themselves. So they gathered the visitors on a rock on the east coast and put on a meal that included turkey and all the fixings. It apparently went over real well! This is just a guess mind you, but I’m of a feeling that the pilgrims probably enjoyed their turkey dinner much better than if they would have had wild eagle. I don’t know this for a fact!
Now, fast forward a few hundred years.
Finally, well almost, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. Don’t get too excited here. We’re talking politics and turkey(s) which means everybody wants to get their fingers in the pie. It seems Franklin Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving one year to a week earlier than usual in 1939 to make the Christmas shopping season longer (try to look surprised). Well Frank had to stay inside the White House for a while after that move because there was a tremendous outpouring of public disapproval so, in 1941 Thanksgiving was declared a legal holiday by Congress. Could somebody do the math here…first Thanksgiving was 1621…official and permanent Thanksgiving 1941!
The speed of government is mind boggling!
So let’s reflect.
Our forefathers land, there’s no shopping mall so Native Americans treat them to a turkey dinner. Ben Franklin votes against the Bald Eagle as our national bird in favor of the turkey…he loses the vote and is told to go fly a kite. Abe Lincoln declares the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving but Franklin Roosevelt, apparently not wanting to offend the retail lobby, moves Thanksgiving a week earlier to allow for more shopping time. Finally Congress comes back from one of its’ unecessary long recesses and makes the last Thursday of November a national holiday.
Would somebody please pass the mashed potatoes?