Last year, I wrote some thoughts about Thanksgiving and freedom. This year, I revised the post a bit and published it to the Democrat and Chronicle’s Moms blog, and again, below. Enjoy!
My son reminded me that Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for our freedom. Throughout his education, he’s drawn a lot of chubby five fingered turkeys and watched our President officially pardon a single turkey – one of an estimated 46 million turkeys saved from Thanksgiving Day tables. But it wasn’t until recently that James understood what Thanksgiving Day is really about: freedom.
We all know that Pilgrims came to America seeking freedom from religious persecution from the Church of England. These brave souls set up hearth, home, and church with help from the soon-to-be-vanquished indigenous people already living on this land. They barely survived weather, famine, and disease, but managed to give thanks after their first harvest in the New World with a large feast. However, it wasn’t until 1863 in the midst of a terrible Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a single national Thanksgiving Day in the hope of unifying a nation divided.
Today, we have many wonderful rights and freedoms that we can enjoy thanks to our Founding Fathers. The original Bill of Rights (you know, that bit of paper amended to the constitution because it wasn’t good enough?) consisted of ten amendments that became part of the Constitution. Since then, more have been added like Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage.
Like the line: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left lose” from “Me and Bobby McGee,” (as recorded by Janis Joplin; lyrics by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster) the Pilgrims came to America seeking freedom because they had nothing left to lose.
Over time, I’ve come across some interesting examples of how folks exercise their freedom.
- Express our ideas, known as freedom of speech, like posting a video called “It’s Thanksgiving“ on YouTube. It’s a terrible song that’s received more than 60 million views. Thank goodness 12-year-olds are free to sing and post terrible songs on a viral platform. (Check out the very funny article about it)
- Do something that’s scary, like pouring your heart into a song.
- Freedom of the press applies to everyone – including bloggers
- Occupy Rochester is one of many protests we can hold (even if it didn’t go anywhere), which are referred to as freedom of assembly
- Texas (one of many other states, apparently) had petitioned to secede from the United States because folks wanted a federal government that is more responsive to the people it represents – it’s called freedom to petition
- Support animal rights but also support the right to bear arms may sound hypocritical, but then again, maybe the author’s on to something
- Choosing to live an unconventional life because you’re free to live and travel anywhere
- Even poultry has a right to a fair trial
- You have the right to marry and raise a family however you choose in this age of Modern Family
- Questioning our right to receive a public education with a thought-provoking manifesto
I hope you’ll explore these examples, discuss them on Thanksgiving Day, and seek more examples to share. As I look forward to spending time with family and dear friends, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.