Well over three-and-a-half centuries ago, strengthened by faith and bound by a common desire for liberty, a small band of Pilgrims sought out a place in the New World where they could worship according to their own beliefs. Surviving their first harsh winter in Massachusetts and grateful to a merciful God for a sustaining harvest, the men and women of Plymouth Colony set aside three days as a time to give thanks for the bounty of their fields, the fruits of their labor, the chance to live in peace with their native American neighbors, and the blessings of a land where they could live and worship freely.
We have come far on our American journey since that early Thanksgiving. In the intervening years, we have lived through times of war and peace, years of poverty and plenty, and seasons of social and political upheaval that have shaped and forever changed our national character and experience. As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables again this year, it is a fitting time to reflect on how the events of our rich history have affected those we care about and those who came before us. As we acknowledge the past, we do so knowing that the individual blessings for which we give thanks may have changed, but our gratitude to God and our commitment to our fellow Americans remain constant.
Today we count among our national blessings a time of unprecedented prosperity, with an expanding economy, record low rates of poverty and unemployment among our people, and the limitless opportunities to improve the quality of life that new technologies present to us. We can give thanks today that for the first time in history, more than half the world's people live under governments of their own choosing. And we remain grateful for the peace and freedom America continues to enjoy thanks to the courage and patriotism of our men and women in uniform.
But the spirit of Thanksgiving requires more than just an acknowledgment of our blessings; it calls upon us to reach out and share those blessings with others. We must strive to fulfill the promise of the extraordinary era in which we live and enter the new century with a commitment to widen the circle of opportunity, break down the prejudices that alienate us from one another, and build an America of understanding and inclusion, strong in our diversity, responsible in our freedom, and generous in sharing our bounty with those in need.
Now, therefore, I, William J. Clinton, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1999, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all the people of the United States to assemble in their homes, places of worship, or community centers to share the spirit of fellowship and prayer and to reinforce the ties of family and community; to express heartfelt thanks to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us; and to reach out in true gratitude and friendship to our brothers and sisters in the larger family of humankind.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninetynine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twentyfourth.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society