NOVEMBER 26, 1953
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—Thanksgiving day is the most personal of all our holidays, I think, because it carries us back to our own past history and we are primarily celebrating the survival of our first ancestors in this country. There may be other countries which have their own Thanksgiving days but this is our day, the day when we review the things that we in the United States have to be thankful for.
First of all, the courage of those who came to this new country and established it, and then the kindness of some of the Indians who helped to keep our ancestors alive by giving them corn in those early days, sometimes from their own rather meager supplies.
Then we have to be thankful, I think, beyond words for the preservation of our country as a whole at the time of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery throughout our land, under the leadership of one of our greatest Americans, Abraham Lincoln.
Next, I am grateful for our participation in World War I which kept a free world and for the leadership of another great American, Woodrow Wilson, who first gave us a concept of an organization which might join the nations of the world to prevent war between them in the future.
Lastly, I am grateful for the fact that in World War II through the valor of our men and the wisdom of our leaders, and above all through the Grace of God, our land was preserved in World War II from devastation such as came to many other lands throughout the world where World War II was on their own doorstep.
We suffered in World War II through the loss of the flower of a generation but from the economic standpoint we came out, as far as productive capacity went, stronger than we had been when we went in. In addition, we were not faced with the destruction of homes and churches, schools and factories and utilities which would have required clearing away an endless mass of rubble before we could rebuild what was destroyed.
Our housing difficulties were caused by not having been able to build new housing during the war but it would have been far worse if we had to clear the ground of everything that had been destroyed before we could begin to rebuild, let alone to do any new building.
I am thankful, too, that we are now in an organization, the United Nations, with 59 other nations of the world which is actually building for a more peaceful world.
With all this in mind, I shall say a prayer of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. I am proud and glad to be an American and I hope I shall live in the tradition of freedom and courage that we have inherited. I am grateful for the warmth of family fellowship and the devotion of many friends and I hope that many people in this land will be able to join with me in the fullness of this gratitude on Thanksgiving Day, 1953.