It is hard to believe that we’ve already reached November. The past several years have been historic in so many ways, and historic seasons have a way of flying by. As Woodstock makes its way into autumn in earnest, we’ll join the nation this month in pausing to give thanks. It’s a tradition so ingrained in American culture that we often take our “intentional pause for gratitude” completely for granted.
Dedicated days of thanksgiving date back to English tradition, and were marked with religious services, thanks to God and celebration of bountiful harvests. Here, in North America, the tradition dates back to the early 1600s in Plymouth, Massachusetts. More than a century later, Gen. George Washington, during his service as commander in chief of the Continental Army, frequently declared days of thanksgiving among the troops. He continued his commitment to the practice in office as our first president, by issuing a proclamation declaring the first national day of Thanksgiving in 1789. The tradition remained sporadic after Washington’s tenure came to a close, until President Abraham Lincoln established it as a national holiday during the Civil War.
Our country has marked a day every year since then as a day to pause and remember the blessings of providence for America, and in each of our lives. We join with family and friends. We eat foods indigenous to our continent (turkey, corn, potatoes). We share stories, and we join together for one day celebrating one unified national identity.
Thanksgiving Day permeates the month of November, and it serves as a great reminder of the inherent blessings that come with being an American, while also uniting us with previous generations who endured struggle and hardship to ensure we were able to inherit this great American experiment. As we pause this year, I am calling on each of you in Woodstock to remember the great heritage that we each claim as Americans. As our Declaration of Independence tells us, “with a firm reliance on divine providence,” our forefathers pledged to one another their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Our Constitution tells us that they did so in order to “secure the blessings of liberty to … our posterity.”
We must, during this time of thanks — and every day forward — remember that far more unites us than divides us. The founders’ commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all remains the calling of our time. It is up to each of us to secure it for the next generation. My family and I remain forever thankful for each of you, and for the honor of serving this incredible city.
Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving!
— Mayor Michael Caldwell
– Michael Caldwell is the 31st mayor of Woodstock, a retired state legislator, member of the Georgia Technology Authority, partner at Black Airplane, husband to Katie, and father to Oliver, Elizabeth and Charlotte.