If anyone on this classic American holiday doubts their reasons for giving thanks, it might be helpful to hark back to the national zeitgeist 25 and 75 years ago.
In 1942 Thanksgiving fell amid a traumatic time of world war, while in 1992 it was celebrated during a period of peace.
What about today? We tiptoe precariously between the two — waiting for the next episodic clash, far or near, with the Islamic State and its radical terrorist surrogates; watching the nuclear staredown between the volatile leaders of the U.S. and North Korea.
But take a few minutes to read News Tribune editorials from two prior Thanksgivings, and it becomes clear that now, as then, we belong to an immensely blessed state and nation.
Nov. 26, 1942
Thankful? In time of war and carnage, misery and death? For what?
First of all, thankful that we have the strength of mind, heart, body and soul to get out and fight for freedom in the war.
Thankful for such measure of victory as has so far been given us.
Thankful next for the power and richness of our country which enables us to provide for our fighting forces and for those of our Allies. Thankful we have food for ourselves, our Allies and the enslaved nations, despite our somewhat bungling efforts to distribute it.
Thankful also for the normal things of American life - for homes, schools, churches, factories, mills and markets.
Thankful for the courage of our defenders who are brave and intelligent, strong beyond the strength of 10.
This is a sorrowful year for the families of those who have died within it - but a year of exaltation, too, for those who have entered a new and happier world and for what they have accomplished before they went.
It is a year of anxiety and uncertainty about many things. But it is also a year of more certain direction, stronger unity, surer hope.
Americans give thanks this year as never before. They ask faith, hope and sustaining courage for the days to come. They lift their heads to meet the glory of the coming of the Lord, for freedom marches on!
Blessings abound this Thanksgiving Day
Nov. 26, 1992
Christmas has the glorious rituals and the frenetic festivities; New Year’s has the glitz and good times. But Thanksgiving offers a rare chance to reflect on the candied yams and custard pies of life with a minimum of exhaustion, obligation and fuss.
Lottery winners and Microsoft shareholders have no corner on the bounty of this land. Most of us have plenty of blessings to count today.
Husky fans, for example, can be grateful they’re not Cougar fans … most of the time, anyway. Cougar fans can be grateful for snowstorms.
Fans of the Seahawks can be grateful the season is almost over.
Speaking of wildlife, the Northwest’s bald eagles - once threatened, now rebounding - can be grateful they aren’t marbled murrelets. Marbled murrelets can be grateful they aren’t spotted owls. Spotted owls can be grateful they aren’t loggers.
Except for the state’s timber workers, though, Washingtonians can be grateful for their state’s reasonably healthy economy - as opposed to, say, New Jersey’s. It’s all relative, though. Folks in New Jersey can be grateful they don’t live in California. Californians can be grateful they don’t live in Haiti.
And voters everywhere can rejoice that this year’s execrable election season finally ended this month. The attack ads are off the air; glad-handing politicians are not acting like snarling curs; a hint of civility has returned to public life.
But elections are something to be grateful for, too. Once again, the White House has changed hands, the ins and outs peacefully trading places. In much of the rest of the world, such transitions have normally been accomplished by wars, coups and revolutions.
Americans can be especially grateful today their country is at peace and has passed its 216th year with its basic freedoms intact. Few nations have been so fortunate. That alone is no small blessing to contemplate on a quiet Thanksgiving Day.