The first Thanksgiving took place south of Boston in what is now the town of Plymouth. As a boy I knew the story backwards and forwards. The Pilgrims arrived in 1620 after fleeing England in search of religious freedom. The next winter was particularly cold, and of the 100 or so people who came to the New World, 55 of them died, mostly due to sickness. It was a sad, devastating time for everyone. By the next spring another nine had died, and those who survived, in the words of the hymn, “plowed the fields and scattered the good seed on the land.” In the end, they not only survived, they prospered.
With a thankful heart Governor Bradford declared a Thanksgiving holiday—and even invited the Indians to join them for the feast. As both a student and a Scout I participated in pageants — as an Indian and as a pilgrim. I remember putting a small cone on the muzzle of my air rifle to make it look like a blunderbuss. Probably my greatest accomplishment was making an Indian drum from a large cardboard barrel for my Scout troop.
All this was to prepare for Thanksgiving – and a feast to end all feasts. I knew that the Plymouth story was the beginning of it all. Of course, President Lincoln made the holiday “official” on October 3, 1863, where it has remained ever since — a truly wonderful American holiday.