My dad spent 30 plus years as journalist. I was a kid, student, and into my own world for most of those years, but now I’m beginning to appreciate the efforts he put forth to write almost daily columns and articles for the Denver Post. As a tribute, below is his Thanksgiving column from 1975. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!
Colorado Is Not Perfect, But There’s Holiday Peace
“Famine once we had. But other things God gave us in full share.” -Gov. William Bradford
Sleek Sheep graze along the Eagle River near Vail, Colo. Fat cattle fill the meadows along the Roaring Fork River near Aspen. The 16,000 students at Colorado State University in Fort Collins Take a respite from their books. A blanket of snow covers the Centennial State.
It is Thanksgiving, 1975, in Colorado.
Henry Kissinger recently asked: “Why do we insist on tearing ourselves apart?” And this is what many people in the Cleveland area are now asking.
And Governor Bradford’s 17th century description of Plymouth Colony is true of Colorado. We are rich in natural resources. We have enjoyed an abundant harvest in our sugar beet, hay, wheat and fruit fields. We are rich in talent in our business and governmental institutions.
Although the state has experienced a difficult economic trial, our unemployment rate never has equaled the national average or the disastrous 13 percent in Florida.
Colorado is not perfect. Among us this day are men, women and children with little incentive in life. They are jobless, ill or victims of a sometimes cruel society. Little do they know or care that since the first Pilgrim feast in 1621 the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving Day once disappeared for 47 years in our history.
When you are a victim of cancer, or overcrowding at the State Penitentiary in Canon City, it means little that the first nationwide Thanksgiving was declared in 1977 buy the Continental Congress.
It is a difficult Thanksgiving, too, for the families of the two youngsters who drowned this week in an icy Northglenn lake. Coach John Ralston of the Broncos, his staff and players have little to cheer about after a dismal season. The families of a brilliant Ralph Sargent, a utility company executive, and Arthur Balantine, Durango Herald editor, are saddened. Death claimed them. Why do the best die the earliest?
Outside of Colorado the news is not encouraging. Troubles in Portugal, Ireland, Lebanon. New York’s financial plight prolongs. there is hunger around the globe.
Colorado, like the rest of the nation has experienced various dates for Thanksgiving. Presidents have proclaimed the holiday in hopscotch fashion. Only three months through the years have not had Thanksgiving Day: March, June and October.
President Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1789. President Madison made it April 15, 1815 and that was the last until Abraham Lincoln declared one in 1862.
Lincoln urged that work be suspended on the day so everyone might give thanks to God.
All of Lincoln’s Thanksgivings were not in November but his final one fell on the last Thursday of November. After Lincoln, most Presidents declared the annual day on a Thursday in November although Andrew Johnson picked the first Thursday in December. The last Thursday in November was traditional until Franklin Roosevelt sparked a row by designating the third Thursday of November in 1939.
However, the date is not as important as the spirit of the celebration.
In Colorado it is a day of thanks, food and football. Gone are the historic University of Denver-University of Colorado gridiron classics at Hilltop Stadium. Television fills that void but not with as much tradition.
Coloradans can be thankful this Thanksgiving for many blessings. The pundits among us are quick to point out the blessing that uninformed actor Robert Redford has departed the state after a hit-miss attack on Gov. Dick Lamm over environmental issues.
But more important– whether you are gathering with family, friends, or at the much appreciated Salvation Army for dinner– a welcome five-letter word is a reality in our wonderful state and nation. It is PEACE!