Monument to World War veterans in Ringgold

Monument, erected by VFW Post 7675 in 1950, to those who served in WWI and WWII, surrounded by flags put out by the Ringgold Flag Committee, in front of Ringgold Courthouse. (Catoosa News photo/Tamara Wolk)

From the very beginning of our country, U.S. presidents have been declaring a public day of Thanksgiving. Here are excerpts from some of their declarations.*

"…it is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God . . . . humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings graciously to prolong them to us; to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for them; to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value…" – George Washington, 1795

"I have therefore thought fit to recommend . . . . a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer . . . . that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished..." John Adams, 1798

"I do therefore issue this my proclamation, recommending to all who shall be piously disposed to unite their hearts and voices in addressing at one and the same time their vows and adorations to the Great Parent and Sovereign of the Universe that they assemble . . . . in their respective religious congregations to render Him thanks for the many blessings He has bestowed on the people of the United States..." – James Madison, 1813

"The season is nigh when, according to the time-hallowed custom of our people, the President appoints a day as the especial occasion for praise and thanksgiving to God. . . . . [N]o people on earth have such abundant cause for thanksgiving as we have..." – Theodore Roosevelt, 1901

"The season again approaches when it behooves us to turn from the distractions and preoccupations of our daily life, that we may contemplate the mercies which have been vouchsafed to us, and render heartfelt and unfeigned thanks unto God for His manifold goodness." – Woodrow Wilson, 1920

"In this year of liberation, which has seen so many millions freed from tyrannical rule, it is fitting that we give thanks with special fervor to our Heavenly Father for the mercies we have received individually and as a nation... I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas. Let every man of every creed go to his own version of the Scriptures for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this nation has achieved." – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944

"Today, cognizant of our American heritage of freedom and opportunity, we are again called to gratitude, thanksgiving, and contrition. Thanksgiving Day summons every American to pause in the midst of activity, however necessary and valuable, to give simple and humble thanks to God." – Ronald Reagan, 1988

*To see all Presidential Thanksgiving Declarations, visit whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-american-calendar/thanksgiving-day-proclamations-1789-present