Thanksgiving Day, 1971
By the President of the United States of America
One of the splendid events which shape man's destiny occurred when a small band of people, believing in the essential sanctity of their own being, went in search of a land in which their individuality might be the highest national value, before any arbitrary limitation or duty placed upon some men by the whim or design of others.
They went in search of a land where they might live out their own commitment to their own ideal of human freedom. In the purpose of their search, the human spirit found its ultimate definition, and in the product of their search, its ultimate expression. They found the land they sought, and it was a difficult land, but it was rich. With their sacrifices they brought forth its riches, and laid the foundation for a new nation.
But more than that, they revealed a new possibility for the expression of man's spirit. In the sure unfolding of that possibility man has begun to experience a world in which he may do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with his God forever.
For what those early settlers established, we give thanks in a way which began with them. In their first years on the hard cold edge of man's bright golden dream, they were tried and their faith was tested. But when their bodies failed, their faith did not.
The stark simple words on a sarcophagus in a little village on the seacoast of Massachusetts tell the story well: "This monument marks the first burying-ground in Plymouth of the passengers of the Mayflower. Here, under cover of darkness, the fast dwindling company laid their dead; leveling the earth above them lest the Indians should learn how many were the graves."
Yet, because mankind was not created merely to survive, in the face of all hardship and suffering, these men and women—and those of the other early settlements—prevailed. And the settlers gathered to give thanks for God's bounty, for the blessings of life itself, and for the freedom which they so cherished that no hardship could quench it. And now their heritage is ours.
What they dared to imagine for this land came to pass.
What they planted here prospered.
And for our heritage—a land rich with the bountiful blessings of God, and the freedom to enjoy those rich blessings—we give thanks to God Almighty in this time, and for all time.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, in accordance with the wish of the Congress as expressed in Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1971, as a day of national thanksgiving. I call upon all Americans to share this day, to give thanks in homes and in places of worship for the many blessings our people enjoy, to welcome the elderly and less fortunate as special participants in this day's festivities and observances, thereby truly showing our gratitude to God by expressing and reflecting His love.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.