In his first year as President, George Washington proclaimed a day of public Thanksgiving and prayer.
He asked all citizens to unite and in sincere and humble thanks for God's providence and the founding of our country.
And in the midst of the Civil War, President Lincoln made the last Thursday in November a national holiday.
He called on Americans to come together with one heart and one voice to thank God for his gracious gifts and to ask him to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it.
Today, we give thanks for all of the pilgrims, pioneers, and patriots who have gone before us,
and for all those warriors who have kept us safe and free.
This week, we know that thousands of men and women in uniform won't be able to come home for Thanksgiving.
They're standing watch around the world, facing down our enemies, and defending our great American flag.
We're eternally grateful for their courage, heroism, and sacrifice.