Thanksgiving Proclamations – Ronald Reagan

Thanksgiving Proclamations

31 Presidents have issued official Thanksgiving proclamations beginning with George Washington.  Thanksgiving was made an official holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.  Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation began an unbroken chain of yearly thanksgiving proclamations made by U.S. Presidents.

Thanksgiving Proclamations – Ronald Reagan

11/26/1981 President Reagan carving the turkey with Nancy Reagan and Maureen Reagan during Thanksgiving at Rancho Del Cielo California
11/26/1981 President Reagan carving the turkey with Nancy Reagan and Maureen Reagan during Thanksgiving at Rancho Del Cielo California

THANKSGIVING DAY, 1981
Proclamation 4883. November 12, 1981
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings.
On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well-being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.
In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understand that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.
Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1981, as Thanksgiving Day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.
RONALD REAGAN

THANKSGIVING DAY, 1982
Proclamation 4979. September 27, 1982
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Two hundred years ago, the Congress of the United States issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation stating that it was “the indispensable duty of all nations” to offer both praise and supplication to God. Above all other nations of the world, America has been especially blessed and should give special thanks. We have bountiful harvests, abundant freedoms, and a strong, compassionate people.
I have always believed that this anointed land was set apart in an uncommon way, that a divine plan placed this great continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth who had a special love of faith and freedom. Our pioneers asked that He would work His will in our daily lives so America would be a land of morality, fairness, and freedom.
Today we have more to be thankful for than our pilgrim mothers and fathers who huddled on the edge of the New World that first Thanksgiving Day could ever dream. We should be grateful not only for our blessings, but for the courage and strength of our ancestors which enable us to enjoy the lives we do today.
Let us reaffirm through prayers and actions our thankfulness for America’s bounty and heritage.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1982, as a National Day of Thanksgiving and I call upon all of our citizens to set aside that day for appropriate expressions of thanksgiving.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 27th day of Sept. in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh.
RONALD REAGAN

PROCLAMATION 5098 – THANKSGIVING DAY, 1983
September 15, 1983
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Since the Pilgrims observed the initial Thanksgiving holiday in 1621, this occasion has served as a singular expression of the transcending spiritual values that played an instrumental part in the founding of our country.
One hundred and twenty years ago, in the midst of a great and terrible civil conflict, President Lincoln formally proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to remind those “insensible to the ever watchful providence of almighty God” of this Nation’s bounty and greatness. Several days after the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield, the United States celebrated its first national Thanksgiving. Every year since then, our Nation has faithfully continued this tradition. The time has come once again to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, an occasion for Americans to express gratitude to their God and their country.
In his remarks at Gettysburg, President Lincoln referred to ours as a Nation “under God.” We rejoice in the fact that, while we have maintained separate institutions of church and state over our 200 years of freedom, we have at the same time preserved reverence for spiritual beliefs. Although we are a pluralistic society, the giving of thanks can be a true bond of unity among our people. We can unite in gratitude for our individual freedoms and individual faiths. We can be united in gratitude for our Nation’s peace and prosperity when so many in this world have neither.
As was written in the first Thanksgiving Proclamation 120 years ago, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” God has blessed America and her people, and it is appropriate we recognize this bounty.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit of the Pilgrims, President Lincoln, and all succeeding Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1983, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon Americans to affirm this day of thanks by their prayers and their gratitude for the many blessings upon this land and its people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 15th day of Sept., in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighth.
RONALD REAGAN.

THANKSGIVING DAY, 1984
Proclamation 5269. October 19, 1984
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
As we remember the faith and values that made America great, we should recall that our tradition of Thanksgiving is older than our Nation itself. Indeed, the native American Thanksgiving antedated those of the new Americans. In the words of the eloquent Seneca tradition of the Iroquois, “…give it your thought, that with one mind we may now give thanks to Him our Creator.”
From the first Pilgrim observance in 1621, to the nine years before and during the American Revolution when the Continental Congress declared days of Fast and Prayer and days of Thanksgiving, we have turned to Almighty God to express our gratitude for the bounty and good fortune we enjoy as individuals and as a nation. America truly has been blessed.
This year we can be especially thankful that real gratitude to God is inscribed, not in proclamations of government, but in the hearts of all our people who come from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth. And as we pause to give thanks for our many gifts, let us be tempered by humility and by compassion for those in need, and let us reaffirm through prayer and action our determination to share our bounty with those less fortunate.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit and tradition of the Iroquois, the Pilgrims, the Continental Congress, and past Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 9184, as a day of National Thanksgiving. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship to celebrate, in the words of 1784, “with grateful hearts … the mercies and praises of their all Bountiful Creator…”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.
RONALD REAGAN

THANKSGIVING DAY, 1985
Proclamation 5412. November 15, 1985
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Although the time and date of the first American thanksgiving observance may be uncertain, there is no question but that this treasured custom derives from our Judeo-Christian heritage. “Unto Three, O God, do we give thanks,” the Psalmist sang, praising God not only for the “wondrous works” of His creation, but for loving guidance and deliverance from dangers.
A band of settlers arriving in Maine in 1607 held a service of thanks for their safe journey, and twelve years later settlers in Virginia set aside a day of thanksgiving for their survival. In 1621 Governor William Bradford created the most famous of all such observances at Plymouth Colony when a bounteous harvest prompted him to proclaim a special day “to render thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.” The Spaniards in California and the Dutch in New Amsterdam also held services to give public thanks to God.
In 1777, during our War of Independence, the Continental Congress set aside a day for thanksgiving and praise for our victory at the battle of Saratoga. It was the first time all the colonies took part in such an event on the same day. The following year, upon news that France was coming to our aid, George Washington at Valley Forge prescribed a special day of thanksgiving. Later, as our first President, he responded to a Congressional petition by declaring Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving Day of the United States of America.
Although there were many state and national thanksgiving days proclaimed in the ensuing years, it was the tireless crusade of one woman, Sarah Josepha Hale, that finally led to the establishment of this beautiful feast as an annual nationwide observance. Her editorials so touched the heart of Abraham Lincoln that in 1863 – even in the midst of the civil War – he enjoined his countrymen to be mindful of their many blessings, cautioning them not to forget “the source from which they come,” that they are “the gracious gifts of the Most High God…” Who ought to be thanked “with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
It is in that spirit that I now invite all Americans to take part again in this beautiful tradition with its roots deep in our history and deeper still in our hearts. We manifest our gratitude to God for the many blessings he has showered upon our land and upon its people.
In this season of Thanksgiving we are grateful for our abundant harvests and the productivity of our industries; for the discoveries of our laboratories; for the researches of our scientists and scholars; for the achievements of our artists, musicians, writers, clergy, teachers, physicians, businessmen, engineers, public servants, farmers, mechanics, artisans, and workers of every sort whose honest toil of mind and body in a free land rewards them and their families and enriches our entire Nation.
Let us thank God for our families, friends, and neighbors, and for the joy of this very festival we celebrate in His name. Let every house of worship in the land and every home and every heart be filled with the spirit of gratitude and praise and love on this Thanksgiving Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit and tradition of the Pilgrims, the Continental Congress, and past Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1985, as a day of national Thanksgiving. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship and offer prayers of praise and gratitude for the many blessings almighty God has bestowed upon our beloved country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.
RONALD REAGAN

Ronald Reagan talks to America on Thanksgiving Day 1985

“Good morning, everyone. You know, the Statue of Liberty and this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving go together naturally because although as Americans we have many things for which to be thankful, none is more important than our liberty.

Liberty: that quality of government, that brightness of mind and spirit for which the Pilgrim Fathers braved the seas and Americans for two centuries have laid down their lives.

Today, while religion is suppressed in perhaps one third of the world, we Americans are free to worship the Almighty as we choose.

While entire nations must endure the yoke of tyranny, we are free to speak our minds, to enjoy an unfettered and vigorous press, and to make government abide by the limits we deem just.

While millions live behind walls, we remain free to travel throughout the land to share this precious day with those we love most deeply – the members of our families.

My fellow Americans, let us keep this Thanksgiving Day sacred. Let us thank God for the bounty and goodness of our nation. And as a measure of our gratitude, let us rededicate ourselves to the preservation of this: the land of the free and the home of the brave.

From the Reagan family to your family: Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.”

THANKSGIVING DAY, 1986
Proclamation 5551. October 13, 1986
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Perhaps no custom reveals our character as a Nation so clearly as our celebration of Thanksgiving Day. Rooted deeply in our Judeo-Christian heritage, the practice of offering thanksgiving underscores our unshakable belief in God as the foundation of our Nation and our firm reliance upon Him from Whom all blessings flow. Both as individuals and as a people, we join with the Psalmist in song and praise: “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.”
One of the most inspiring portrayals of American history is that of George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. That moving image personifies and testifies to our Founders’ dependence upon Divine Providence during the darkest hours of our Revolutionary struggle. It was then – when our mettle as a Nation was tested most severely – that the Sovereign and Judge of nations heard our plea and came to our assistance in the form of aid from France. Thereupon General Washington immediately called for a special day of thanksgiving among his troops.
Eleven years later, President Washington, at the request of the Congress, first proclaimed November 26, 1789, as Thanksgiving Day. In his Thanksgiving day Proclamation, President Washington exhorted the people of the United States to observe “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” so that they might acknowledge “with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Washington also reminded us that “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
Today let us take heart from the noble example of our first President. Let us pause from our many activities to give thanks to almighty God for our bountiful harvests and abundant freedoms. Let us call upon Him for continued guidance and assistance in all our endeavors. And let us ever be mindful of the faith and spiritual values that have made our Nation great and that alone can keep us great. With joy and gratitude in our hearts, let us sing those stirring stanzas:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
        God shed His grace on thee.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in the spirit of George Washington and the Founders, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 27, 1986, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings bestowed upon this land and its people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eleventh.
RONALD REAGAN

Radio Address to the Nation on the Observance of Thanksgiving Day

November 22, 1986


My fellow Americans:

This coming Thursday we’ll celebrate a holiday that belongs uniquely to our nation—Thanksgiving Day. Millions of us will travel from all parts of the country to gather in family homes, observing the holiday according to longstanding tradition: turkey with all the fixings, pumpkin pie, laughter, the warmth of family, love, and, yes, a moment of prayer to give thanks. Yet, at the same time, many among us will be less fortunate. And just as Thanksgiving Day has always been an occasion for counting our blessings, so, too, it’s always been a time for making life better among our fellow Americans. In churches and synagogues across the country, for example, food will be collected in the next few days for distribution to the needy, or on Thanksgiving Day itself. And with this spirit of Thanksgiving in mind, I thought I’d speak with you for a moment this afternoon about the goodness of the American people and our willingness to give each other a helping hand.

The spirit of voluntarism is deeply ingrained in us as a nation. Maybe it has something to do with our history as a frontier land. Those early Americans who gave us Thanksgiving Day itself had to help each other in order to survive—joining together to plant crops, build houses, and raise barns. And perhaps they discovered that in helping others their own lives were enriched. In our own day, a poll showed most Americans believe that no matter how big government gets and no matter how many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers. In other words, we Americans understand that there are no substitutes for gifts of service given from the heart.

In our recent history, there was a time not long ago when this spirit seemed endangered, when philanthropy and personal involvement were giving way to bureaucratic plans and Federal programs. So, when our administration took office, we made it one of our main aims to encourage private sector initiatives, to reinvigorate the American tradition of voluntarism. And I have to admit, our success in this area is one of the accomplishments of which I’m most proud. For in the past few years, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented outpouring of the volunteer spirit, a tremendous reassertion of good will and neighborliness. Last year alone, individuals, corporations, bequests, and foundations gave nearly $80 billion to good causes—a record high. You can see these volunteer efforts all around. Consider the United Way, founded a century ago next year. Today there are more than 2,200 local United Ways in communities throughout the country. Just last year the United Way raised more than $2.3 billion, supported more than 3,700 health and human care agencies and programs, and served millions of families.

In 1958, for example, Dr. William Walsh asked President Dwight Eisenhower for the use of an old hospital ship, mothballed after World War II. Ike provided that ship, charging rent of just 81 a year. And Dr. Walsh turned the old ship into Project HOPE, a seaborne hospital and medical school that traveled the world. Today Project HOPE has been modernized, and medical volunteers traveled by plane recently to El Salvador to help with the aftereffects of the devastating earthquake.

Then there’s Just Say No, a largely volunteer organization that’s teaching children around the world to say no to drugs. This organization got started when Nancy was visiting an elementary school in California. A little girl asked what to do if someone offered her drugs, and Nancy’s answer was simple: “Just say no.” Well, not long ago, Nancy hosted a Just Say No rally here at the White House. More than 2,300 children attended. Although Just Say No requires school officials, teachers, and especially parents to devote to it a great deal of time, Nancy told me that everyone she spoke to at the rally was convinced that it’s not only worth it but of vital importance for the future.

Local efforts may be less well known than major undertakings like Just Say No and Project HOPE, but to the very heart and soul of the American volunteer spirit, many of you’ll be able to think of good works being performed in your own communities. I think of a house for the homeless here in Washington founded by a young priest, Father Jack Pfannenstiel, and sustained by his own hard work and that of volunteers. McKenna House offers shelter, food, and human concern for the homeless men right here in our Nation’s Capital. Of course, we must do more, striving always to give of ourselves to those less fortunate. But it’s good to reflect that here in America, perhaps more than in any other nation on Earth, we have a tradition of giving—of neighbor helping neighbor—that makes life better for tens of thousands every day. And for this, too, on Thanksgiving Day, let us give thanks.

Until next week, thanks for listening. God bless you.
THANKSGIVING DAY, 1987
Proclamation 5687. July 28, 1987
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
Thanksgiving Day is one of our most beloved holidays, an occasion set aside by Americans from earliest times to thank our Maker prayerfully and humbly for the blessings and the care He bestows on us and on our beautiful, bountiful land. Through the decades, through the centuries, in log cabins, country churches, cathedrals, homes, and halls, the American people have paused to give thanks to God, in time of peace and plenty or of danger and distress.
Acknowledgment of dependence on God’s favor was, in fact, our fledgling Nation’s very first order of business. When the delegates to the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774, they overcame discord by uniting in prayer for our country. Despite the differences among them as they began their work, they found common voice in the 35th Psalm, which concludes with a verse of joyous gratitude, “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of they praise all the day long.”
This year, of course, our Thanksgiving Day celebration coincides with the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In 1789 the government established by that great charter of freedom, and “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,” were cited by George Washington in the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation as among “the great and various favors” conferred upon us by the Lord and Ruler of Nations. As we thank the God our first President called “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” we have even greater cause for gratitude than the fresh triumphs that inspired Washington’s prose. We have seen the splendor of our natural resource spread across the tables of the world, and we have seen the splendor of freedom cursing with new vigor through the channels of history. The cause for which we give thanks, for which so many of our citizens through the years have given their lies, has endured 200 years – a blessing to us and a light to all mankind.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1987, let us, in this unbroken chain of observance, dedicate ourselves to honor anew the Author of Liberty and to publicly acknowledge our debt to all those who have sacrificed so much in our behalf. May our gratitude always be coupled with petitions for divine guidance and protection for our Nation and with ready help for our neighbors in time of need.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1987, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twelfth.
RONALD REAGAN

Proclamation 5844 – Thanksgiving Day, 1988
August 4, 1988
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION
The celebration of Thanksgiving Day is one of our Nation’s most venerable and cherished traditions. Almost 200 years ago, the first President of these United States, George Washington, issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation under the Constitution and recommended to the American people that they “be devoted to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” He called upon them to raise “prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations,” not merely for continued blessings on our own land but on all rulers and nations that they might know “good government, peace, and concord.”
A century ago, President Grover Cleveland called for “prayers and song of praise” that would render to God the appreciation of the American people for His mercy and for the abundant harvests and rich rewards He had bestowed upon our Nation through the labor of its farmers, shopkeepers, and tradesmen. Both of these Proclamations included something else as well: a recognition of our shortcomings and transgressions and our dependence, in total and in every particular, on the forgiveness and forbearance of the Almighty.
Today, cognizant of our American heritage of freedom and opportunity, we are again called to gratitude, thanksgiving, and contrition. Thanksgiving Day summons every American to pause in the midst of activity, however necessary and valuable, to give simple and humble thanks to God. This gracious gratitude is the “service” of which Washington spoke. It is a service that opens our hearts to one another as members of a single family gathered around the bounteous table of God’s Creation. The images of the Thanksgiving celebrations at America’s earliest settlement – of Pilgrim and Iroquois Confederacy assembled in festive friendship – resonate with even greater power in our own day. People from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth now inhabit this land. Their presence illuminates the basic yearning for freedom, peace, and prosperity that has always been the spirit of the New World.
In this year when we as a people enjoy the fruits of economic growth and international cooperation, let us take time both to remember the sacrifices that have made this harvest possible and the needs of those who do not fully partake of its benefits. The wonder of our agricultural abundance must be recalled as the work of farmer who, under the best and worst of conditions, give their all to raise food upon the land. The gratitude that fills our being must be tempered with compassion for the needy. The blessings that are ours must be understood as the gift of a loving God Whose greatest gift is healing. Let us join then, with the psalmist of old:

    O give thanks to the Lord, call on His name, Make known His deeds among the peoples!
    Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, Tell of all His wonderful works!
    Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 1988, as a National Day of thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.
RONALD REAGAN

 

Radio Address to the Nation on the Celebration of Thanksgiving Day
November 19, 1988

My fellow Americans:

Over 350 years ago, a small band of Pilgrims, after gathering in their first harvest at Plymouth Colony, invited their friends and neighbors, who were Indians, to join them in a feast of thanksgiving. Together they sat around their bountiful table and bowed their heads in gratitude to the Lord for all that He had bestowed upon them. This week, so many years later, we, too, will gather with family and friends and, after saying grace, carve up a turkey, pass around the cranberries and dressing, and later share slices of pumpkin pie.

We Americans have so much for which to be thankful. Think of the great expanse of our nation, the rolling hills of our immense farmland. Even in years of drought, as this year has been, the plows and the sweat of America’s farmers call forth from our good Earth more food than we can possibly eat-so much food that, taken together, our harvests of wheat, corn, soybeans, fruits, vegetables, and all the other bounty of our land make up one of our most important exports. Not only we but the entire world can be thankful for that. Millions of children across all the continents are happier, healthier, and stronger because of America’s farmers.

Now, think of our manufacturing centers. After almost a decade of hard, often painful work, cultivating our industrial fields to meet a whole new generation of world competition, this year we can see the first harvest of that work. Almost every American industry is zipping along at near-full capacity. A few years ago, journalists were calling the Midwest the Rust Belt. Now the Boom Belt would be more like it. From Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania to Dayton and Detroit and beyond, the factory whistles again sound in the old factory towns, and we hope they’ll blow soon where they don’t now. By the way, often those whistles are at the plants of entirely new companies, providing new products and services to the Nation and to the world.

In the past year, America added 425,000 new manufacturing jobs, and when it comes to world competition, no one can stop us now. And that’s not the only good news. According to one of the foremost authorities in manufacturing, Peter Drucker, the old myth about low wages and low manufacturing costs may be dead for good. In this age of high technology, factories, highly paid skilled workers—America’s kind of workers—produce so efficiently that no one can touch them. That’s why it’s gratifying, but not surprising, to find out that America’s manufacturing productivity has grown at one and a half times the postwar average during our expansion. And that’s why this year, even as European and Japanese manufacturing employment has stagnated, our manufacturing employment has increased.

But prosperity is not an end in itself. It helps us pay attention to the more important things: raising our children as we want them to be raised, helping others in need, and bringing nations together in peace.

This week, world peace has been very much on my mind. Here in Washington, we’ve received visits from two of America’s friends, Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl. In our meetings, these two great leaders and I talked about the prosperity that all the nations of the industrial world enjoy and about the cuts in taxes and the return to the principles of the free market that have made it possible. And we talked about the success over the past 8 years of our policy of peace through strength.

Yes, peace is another thing for which we can say a prayer of gratitude over the dinner table on Thursday, peace and abundance in this land that God has kissed. We will give thanks for these and one thing more: our freedom. Yes, in America, freedom seems like the air around us: It’s there; it’s sweet, though we rarely give it a thought. Yet as the air fills our lungs, freedom fills our souls. It gives breath to our laughter and joy. It gives voice to our songs. It gives us strength as we race for our dreams.

Think of those around the world who cannot bow their heads in prayer without risking their lives. Think of those countries where to write an honest word or even to own a child’s simple toy printing press is a crime. Think of how many countries where to dream of striking out on your own and starting a business is to take a chance not on a better life for yourself and your children but on a long stay in a prison cell. And then think of how blessed we are to be Americans.

Yes, as we gather together this Thanksgiving to ask the Lord’s blessings, as we of whatever faith we are give praises to His name, let us thank Him for our peace, prosperity, and freedom.

Happy Thanksgiving! And until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

 

Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

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