Yankton Press & Dakotan. November 22, 2022.
Editorial: 1922: A Call For Unity, Hope
Here’s America in a snapshot: The nation is still recovering from a global calamity and the political times are contentious with debates over isolation and immigration restrictions. The possibility of a railway strike concerns the nation, while on the other side of the world, the specter of Russia grows ominous …
In other words, welcome to 1922, which at times stirs more than a few echoes of 2022. Back then, it was World War I, not COVID-19, from which we were still recovering, and the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was announced, changing the global political and military landscape for decades. And the Great Railroad Strike began in the summer but was mostly resolved by fall, unlike the current deadlock.
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It was a time of headaches but also a season of hope. In 1922, a memorial honoring the legacy of Abraham Lincoln was dedicated in Washington, and it gave this nation a new, towering symbol of enduring unity.
That November, President Warren G. Harding issued the annual presidential decree of national Thanksgiving, a ritual that Lincoln himself had revived in 1863 and established a tradition that holds to this day. The decree by Harding (who would die the following year) acknowledged the nation’s struggles but also called on Americans to cherish the things that unite us together as one, as well as herald the call for lasting peace everywhere in the post-war world.
As is our own tradition each Thanksgiving, we have turned to the Pilgrim Hall archives and today present Harding’s 1922 decree, which offers an optimistic view that hopefully resonates a century later.
By The President Of The United States Of America: A Proclamation
In the beginnings of our country the custom was established by the devout fathers of observing annually a day of Thanksgiving for the bounties and protection which Divine Providence had extended throughout the year. It has come to be perhaps the most characteristic of our national observances, and as the season approaches for its annual recurrence, it is fitting formally to direct attention to this ancient institution of our people and to call upon them again to unite in its appropriate celebration.
The year which now approaches its end has been marked, in the experience of our nation, by a complexity of trials and of triumphs, of difficulties and of achievements, which we must regard as our inevitable portion in such an epoch as that through which all mankind is moving. As we survey the experience of the passing twelve-month we shall find that our estate presents very much to justify a nationwide and most sincere testimony of gratitude for the bounty which has been bestowed upon us. Though we have lived in the shadow of the hard consequences of great conflict, our country has been at peace and has been able to contribute toward the maintenance and perpetuation of peace in the world. We have seen the race of mankind make gratifying progress on the way to permanent peace, toward order and restored confidence in its high destiny.
For the Divine guidance which has enabled us, in growing fraternity with other peoples, to attain so much of progress; for the bounteous yield which has come to us from the resources of our soil and our industry, we owe our tribute of gratitude, and with it our acknowledgment of the duty and obligation to our own people and to the unfortunate, the suffering, the distracted of other lands. Let us in all humility acknowledge how great is our debt to the Providence which has generously dealt with us, and give devout assurance of unselfish purpose to play a helpful and ennobling part in human advancement. It is much to be desired that in rendering homage for the blessings which have come to us, we should earnestly testify our continued and increasing aim to make our own great fortune a means of helping and serving, as best we can, the cause of all humanity.
Now, therefore, I, Warren G. Harding, President of the United States of America, do designate Thursday, the thirtieth day of November, as a day of Thanksgiving, supplication and devotion. I recommend that the people gather at their family altars and in their houses of worship to render thanks to God for the bounties they have enjoyed and to petition that these may be continued in the year before us.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this second day of November, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-seventh.
Warren G. Harding