Whether thrilled with the election of Donald Trump or still mourning Hillary Clinton’s dramatic loss, there is much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Since its founding in New England, Thanksgiving has always been a great American festival of domestic and moral influence that has brought citizens together around common goals and promoted our national spirit.
Benjamin Franklin called it a day of “public felicity” to give thanks for our “full enjoyment of Liberty, civil and religious.”
Perhaps there is no individual more responsible for this holiday than the 1800’s magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale who for 17 years waged a tireless campaign of letter writing and editorials to get the last Thursday in November declared a national holiday.
Hale, born in New Hampshire in the late 1700’s to open-minded parents, was inspired at an early age to promote the reputation of her own sex and do something for her country.
Although clearly not a feminist, Hale believed that the status of women should be improved.
A self-educated woman of modest means, she was a voracious reader who noticed that all the good books were written by men. She began ton teach at 18 and by she 34 turned to writing as a profession after struggling to raise her five children due to her husband David’s sudden passing.
Her poetry including “Mary had a little lamb” and her prose quickly developed a national following. Hale was recruited to become editor of the most widely circulated and influential women’s magazine of that era, “Godey’s Lady’s Book.” The magazine became her campaign pulpit.
“There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing in which a while community participates. They bring out and together…the best sympathies of our nature,” Hale wrote.
After lobbying several presidents, Abraham Lincoln answered her call in 1863 and used the holiday to heal the wounds related to the war between the states. “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthy skies,” wrote Lincoln.
Although America was engaged in the Civil War, the country’s borders were expanding snd its economy and population booming. Without the help of Twitter, the president urged citizens to celebrate this holiday with “one heart and one voice.”
President-elect Trump is urging Americans to use this holiday to heal the wounds that have left us divided and focus on what unites us. Donald Trump also needs Americans to put aside our differences and look ahead to the future with a spirit of hope and renewal.
Though there are still many problems facing New Orleans, we are in the midst of unparalleled growth and opportunity. Our port is breaking records. Our city is overflowing with Bayou Classic visitors pouring millions into the economy. Sugar Bowl 2017 will be a great start for the new year.
Let us also not forget those among us today who are struggling and make a personal commitment to share our abundance with others more often. Happy Thanksgiving!
Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall, the Dock Board and the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are Foster Campbell, Regina Bartholomew, City Council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.