In a recent column “We Cannot Escape History”, Daniel Burnett described a time of war in the U.S. (1963), in which President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation of thanksgiving, urging Americans, to take a moment and reflect on the greatness of our nation.
What Burnett leaves out is that Lincoln attributes this greatness to God. Lincoln described the blessings accrued to our nation and stated: “No human counsel has devised nor has any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, has nevertheless remembered mercy.” Lincoln then proceeded to“set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwells in the heavens.”
Bemoaning the fact that our college students are ignorant of American history, Burnett betrays that history by omitting the most significant aspect of Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving – that he was urging the nation to thank God for the many blessings of our nation.
Burnett encourages us to “be thankful for the wisdom of a president seven score and eight years ago who saw the importance of giving thanks as a unified nation,” but denies that Lincoln’s wisdom points us to the sovereign, living God of the universe.
Burnett asks:“Without a strong foundation, how can the leaders of tomorrow set the course for our future?” Good question. Perhaps he should ask Abraham Lincoln.