NOVEMBER 21, 1940
WASHINGTON, Wednesday—Another Thanksgiving Day has come to us. In almost every country in the world, after the harvest is taken in, they have some kind of thanksgiving festival. Our own feast was connected with the safe harvesting of a food supply by our Pilgrim Fathers, but they gave thanks also that they had escaped the attacks of the Indians, the cold of the winter, and that ships had reached them with supplies from faraway England. From their day to ours, this custom has come to be observed in every part of our union, and at different times we have given thanks for many and varied things.
Today as a nation, we give thanks first and foremost for the fact that we are at peace. All of life is a struggle; at least, it should be a constant and unending struggle to make the world a better place in which to live. The struggle goes on constantly against our baser natures, but we, as individuals, are able to carry it on today without being weighed down by the knowledge that in order even to exist ourselves we must try to destroy our fellow human beings—people who live in some other bit of land and speak some other language, who claim some other nationality and yet who have the same needs and the same desires we have ourselves, and whom we could love and understand if it were not for this thing called war.
Next in our category of national thanks, I think, comes the knowledge that as a nation we are growing steadily in the understanding of what democracy means to us. We are free to register our will politically, to worship God as we see fit, to insist that even those with whom we disagree shall have the right to express their opinions, and that all men shall come before the bar of justice with the presumption that they are innocent until they are proved guilty, and with the right to defend their beliefs and their actions.
We are thankful for our natural resources, for the productivity of our land, for the resourcefulness and ingenuity of our people, for their character and their courage which gives to our leaders the courage to look ahead and visualize a brighter day in the future.
As an individual, I am grateful for health and strength, the love of family and friends, for the power to enjoy so many things, for the ability to see the humor in life which softens the bitterness, and above all else for the ability and the opportunity to give a helping hand in one way or another to some of those who need it temporarily.
I can easily forgive my enemies for I so greatly value my friends, and on this Thanksgiving Day my wish for all of you who read this column is that life may give you a chance to be grateful for what you receive because you love the giver, and that you may have the joy of giving of yourself to those whom you may love.