In a time of 9 percent unemployment, a faltering global economy, toxic levels of political rancor, and the release of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, is there anything left to be thankful for?
Reason offers a message of hope, redemption, and dada.
About 30 seconds. Produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie.
Key moments in Thanksgiving history:
1621: Pilgrims in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts and Wampanoag Indians celebrate a harvest feast that is generally acknowledged as the precursor to Thanksgiving.
1675-1676: About 40 percent of Wampanoag tribe killed by colonists and other Indians during King Phillip's War.
1777: During Revolutionary War, Continental Congress makes first Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring December 18 a day that no work should be done or fun should be had, thus paving the way for the contemporary tradition of spending time with family and watching dull NFL games featuring the Detroit Lions. The original declaration instructs "That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion."
1863: Abraham Lincoln sets the last Thursday in November as the date for a national holiday dedicated to the idea that even with the Civil War raging, things had been going pretty well when you got right down to it: "Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom."
1915: Preacher William Simmons and 15 others revived the Ku Klux Klan by burning a cross on Georgia's Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving, tying the event to the Atlanta opening the following week of D.W. Griffith's pro-Klan movie, The Birth of a Nation.
1924: First Macy's Day Parade held in New York City featuring live animals on floats. After multiple episodes of tigers and bears eating beauty queens and local politicians, the animals are replaced in 1927 with balloons of Felix the Cat and other characters.
1939: In a bid to lengthen the Christmas retail season, Franklin Roosevelt unilaterally declared Thanksgiving would take place on the third Thursday in November rather than the last, thus giving rise to what was derided as "Franksgiving" and what lives on as Black Friday. In 1941, federal legislation declared Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, marking the last time that Congress passed a law that didn't cost future generations a lot of money.
1987: Ronald Reagan initiates the custom of publicly pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving; lives to regret it when George H.W. Bush succeeds him as president. Subsequent presidents pardon two turkeys each holiday, because two is twice as good as one.
2009: President Barack Obama fattens turkeys with stimulus dollars, predicts swift end to surprisingly persistent economic downturn that he inherited from previous occupant.
2011: In a bid to appeal to GOP voters, free-falling Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas refuses to review clemency requests and approves the execution of innocent turkeys. For the purposes of school-lunch programs, federal government declares pizza a vegetable and pepper spray a condiment for educational institutions.
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