NOVEMBER 26, 1942
WASHINGTON—I have a letter from someone asking why the President could not have cut out Thanksgiving this year, adding that there certainly is nothing for which to be thankful.
I grant you that there are some persons whom I can forgive for feeling that there is nothing this year for which they can give thanks. Even those, however, who are walking through the Valley of the Shadow, because people whom they love have left them here on earth, should stop and think before they do away with our Thanksgiving festival. That first festival, the first public rejoicing held in New England, was not without those who walked in the Valley of the Shadow too. One look at the old cemeteries will tell you that. But those pioneers gave thanks and we likewise may look about us and try to find the things for which we can give thanks today.
One of the things quite obviously is that we can wake in the morning, breathe thankfully and still say we are free men. We chose our form of government and through our franchise we have preserved it. Under it we have done many things which make our present crisis easier to face.
If the government had not trained our young people, we would lack many thousands of men to handle mechanical tools. If we had not given our young people a chance for better health and education, the caliber of our fighting forces would be far lower today. If we had not faced the social questions in the bad days through which we have passed and established old age pensions, help for the blind and the crippled, there would be many more men today with a heavier burden to carry and a less free mind with which to face a war.
If we had not put our financial house in order, we would not have earned the confidence we now enjoy in the financial world and which is making the carrying of our present burdens not an easy, but a possible task.
I can think of a thousand things in the past for which I am deeply thankful, but it is for the future really that I am most grateful—for the chance to try again to build a decent world; for the young people who are so much better educated in world affairs than we were twenty-odd years ago, and who have high hopes and visions, but who stand foursquare and face the realities of life.
I am grateful for the fact that my country is made up of many peoples; that I have an opportunity to show that I really believe that all men are created equal and that the "Last" Commandment: "Love thy neighbor as thyself," really means what it says; for the fact that my boys are still alive; that other boys whom I love have not yet fallen on any field of battle; for my husband's strength and for his belief in God. For all these things, dear God, I am most humbly grateful.