2015-11-25 / Editorial

Thanksgiving has roots deep in our American heritage

Thanksgiving is a distinctly American holiday with roots deep in the foundation of our nation.

We all know the story of that first Thanksgiving that took place a short distance from Jamestown. It was sometime in the late fall of 1621 when a ragtag group of pilgrims gathered to celebrate their first harvest in this strange new land. Those early colonists and their Native American friends joined together in a feast that would become a tradition centuries later.

Today we can visit a replica of their first settlement, Plymouth Plantation, just north of our Conanicut Island. There you’ll find re-enactors who depict the early days of the pilgrims on these shores.

It was the Native Americans who were largely responsible for teaching the early settlers how to farm and hunt, and thus survive, in the new world.

Our Thanksgiving today would likely be as strange to those pilgrims as the new land in which they had settled.

Today, families gather together – often traveling great distances for the holiday. The pilgrims would have marveled at our jetliners and at the security precautions that one must suffer to board the planes. It took the pilgrims several arduous months to make the hard voyage across the Atlantic – a trip that takes less than eight hours by jet today.

Many of us today celebrate our Thanksgiving in homes that the pilgrims would have considered to be castles. Their homes were simple thatched roof huts with dirt floors and smokey fireplaces. Our homes are filled with devices that would astound those early settlers. Our lives are quite easy compared to the daily hardships faced by those early colonists.

The food we consume at our Thanksgiving feasts would hardly be recognized by those early settlers. Their fare consisted of wild game, not a store-bought turkey.

Yes, there are vast differences between that first Thanksgiving and the one we will observe tomorrow. But those early settlers gave thanks and so will we. No matter how the times have changed, today there is much for which we can be thankful. It is fitting that we set aside one day a year to pause and remember.

The staff at the Jamestown Press wishes all of our readers and advertisers a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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