December 19, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s Count Our Blessings


Editor’s Note: We wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers, their families and friends, and hope everyone enjoys a wonderful day today! 

We are delighted to republish another column by our friend and talented writer, Linda Ahnert, of Old Lyme, which celebrates this day of thankfulness.

If you said the name “Wilbur Cross” to Connecticut residents, they would most likely think of the parkway that bears his name.  But our older readers will remember that he was governor of our state for eight years—from 1931 to 1939, to be exact.

On Nov. 12, 1936, Wilbur Cross issued an eloquent Thanksgiving Proclamation, which has gone down in the annals of Connecticut history.  Many generations of school children either were read the Proclamation in class or required to memorize it … or both!

For the benefit of our younger readers, we reprint it here:

Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year.  In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of Public Thanksgiving for the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth—for all the creature comforts: the yield of the soil that has fed us and the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives—and for all those things, as dear as breath to the body, that quicken man’s faith in his manhood, that nourish and strengthen his spirit to do the great work still before him: for the brotherly word and act; for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth; for liberty and for justice freely granted by each to his fellow and so as freely enjoyed; and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land;—that we may humbly take heart of these blessings as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites to keep our Harvest Home. 

It’s no wonder that Wilbur Cross knew how to use words.  In 1889, he earned a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale.  Before he became governor, he taught English at Yale, was a well-known literary critic, and wrote several books.

By 1941, just five years after Cross wrote about the “mercy of peace upon our land,” the United Sates would be fighting in World War II.

In 1976, another Connecticut governor—Ella Grasso—reissued the proclamation from 40 years earlier and called it a “masterpiece of eloquence.” 

Today, Wilbur Cross’s words still stir our spirits.  We are thankful that we live in this “favored region of earth” and for the freedoms that we enjoy.  And, yes, we are grateful for the glory of the English language. 

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