So, tomorrow many of us will gather around our tables to enjoy an American tradition that hearkens back to the Pilgrims and Native Americans and the difficult beginnings of our country. During the Civil War Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by former President Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1863 “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Former President Franklin Roosevelt established our modern Thanksgiving Holiday as the fourth Thursday in November. This occurred in 1941…again during a time of war.
Many of us will gather with family and friends that we do not see often through the year…and we will have the best of intentions…but perhaps come up somewhat short in our goals of peace and harmony.
Mary Jane and my favorite Thanksgiving movie is Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. The movie aptly depicts the “beneath the surface” animosities and petty jealousies that often accompany holiday revelers at this time of year.
The Norman Rockwell beautiful depiction of Thanksgiving bliss entitled, “Freedom from Want” is what we are striving for. Also his artistic depiction entitled, “Freedom from Fear” is so appropriate for our troubled time.
I was told as a young man that there will always be those who have more than you…and those who have less. If I have a wish of this Thanksgiving let it be peace…and let each of us help our fellow travelers in this life. Not just those who look like us…and worship where we worship…but those who are seemingly completely opposite from us. There is much more that unites us than divides us as we race through the universe on this small blue dot.
G.K. Chesterton said, “We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”
Have you ever visited a city and it just stayed with you? I do not mean that you think about it once in a while…but rather every week…sometimes every day.
In 2012 we visited Paris with our dear friends. I had read for many years of the beauty and majesty of the City of Lights…but when I finally saw it in person the words that I had read did not begin to adequately describe the surreal glow of history and the present brought together in such a peaceful atmosphere. As we walked along the Seine and admired the cathedral of Notre Dame…watching the old and young alike seemingly with no greater purpose than to live life in peace and enjoyment of the camaraderie of our human experience.
It appeared to me that the elderly did not give up…as so often is the case in my country…but rather were walking with their canes and their beloved dogs…and were living life in all of its’ glory and pain…for as long as it lasted.
From the window of our apartment that we were staying in I marveled that I could still see the Eiffel Tower with its’ brilliant lights although we were several miles from it. The Tower is huge! It is a statement of the life and liberty of the French people.
Now, terrorist have committed an unimaginable crime of death and destruction. I cannot fathom how people could be so dedicated to the destruction of human life and subsequently attest that it is in the name of a higher power. It is easy for some to say…that it must be the Syrian refugees…when in fact they are fleeing just this type of horrendous carnage and destruction. So often we seek simple “blanket explanations” to difficult issues that require serious investigation and deep reflection.
The Tricolor is now proudly displayed across the Earth in sorrow and solidarity with the French members of our family. The strong beautiful people of Paris will not be defeated…the lights of Paris will be back!
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Emma Lazarus’ inscription on the Statue of Liberty is profoundly noble in it’s eloquent simplicity. Indeed we are a nation of immigrants…if you are not Native American your ancestors were not born in the United States. The promise of Ms. Lazarus’ inspiring inscription has never been perfectly implemented but it has the been the shining beacon for people from across the planet to escape oppression, genocide, hunger, and suffering.
I have been watching the mass exodus of Syrians from their war torn country into Europe. At last count over one million Syrians have flooded Europe in search of the basic necessities of life…that so often I take for granted. I wonder what would we do if this influx of desperate humanity was seeking refuge in the United States? What would I do if a desperate Syrian family needed shelter in my home?
During World War II Jewish refugees sought shelter by the light of the lamp beside the golden door…and were turned away…only to be returned to a fate that ought to be unimaginable.
Visit any city…I visited Indianapolis recently…and homeless were numerous around people enjoying seemingly a “need for nothing.” I heard it said that often we who have avert our eyes from those who have not…in order to not realize that a fellow traveller in this life is suffering…and perhaps we could help a little.
So, we are going to build a wall our candidates for President tell us. A wall that is stronger and more formidable than ever. Perhaps like the Berlin Wall.
There is an old saying, “Things Change.” Heaven help us if there ever is a day that comes that a despot takes over the land of the tired, and the poor, and the huddled masses…and our neighbors to the South are prosperous…and guarding the Wall.
When I was a youngster I asked for a Big Swinger Polaroid Camera for Christmas. To my pleasant surprise I received one. It was larger than the Swinger and gray while the more popular Swinger was white. It also made larger pictures. I immediately set about becoming a photographer. Upon snapping the picture it subsequently exited from the front of the machine. After pulling away the paper cover from the photo you actually could see the scene developing before your eyes. Once the development was completed there came with every pack of Polaroid film a bottle of solution with an applicator enclosed for the purpose of applying onto the finished print to ensure that it would not fade.
My son Jonathon began telling me about a new Polaroid camera that was digital but also had the capability to print small pictures on Zinc paper. At first I was somewhat skeptical until he received one for his birthday in April…and I saw firsthand what an interesting little camera that it was.
I had to have one! So, for my birthday in October I received one…and have been snapping photos ever since!
The following photos are from our birthday celebration for our son Aaron. In the pictures are also his mother and I as well as his brother Jonathon.
Last is St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis…the birthday dinner!
I might add that I was able to give each family member hard copies of the pictures that they wanted to keep with them! Not bad…eh?