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Happy Thanksgiving 2017

November 23, 2017

Modern Thanksgiving was first officially called for in all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states. Because of the ongoing Civil War and the Confederate States of America‘s refusal to recognize Lincoln’s authority, a nationwide Thanksgiving date was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s. [from Wikipedia]


Chuck Hagel served as the Secretary of Defense from 2013 to 2015 during the Obama administration. He sent out his first Secretary’s Thanksgiving message later that year. The words and tone of his message apply in 2017.

One hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. Though it was a time of hardship, Thanksgiving was a day for Americans to express gratitude for the many blessings they enjoyed, including the sacrifices of those serving in uniform and their families.

Every year since, Americans have come together during this season to reflect and to give thanks.

 As this special American holiday draws near, I want to extend my personal gratitude to the entire Department of Defense community for your work to keep our country strong and secure. Whether you are in uniform or a civilian, whether deployed abroad or stationed here at home, it is your service and commitment that allows Americans to enjoy the blessings of Thanksgiving.

Your strength, selflessness, and patriotism are deeply respected by the American people, and we are very thankful for your commitment to our country.

This time of year is especially difficult for service members who are serving far away from their families and loved ones. To all those deployed overseas: know that Americans will be thinking about you as they gather around the Thanksgiving table, and praying for your safe return. To their families back here at home: Americans will always be indebted to you for sacrificing on their behalf.

And to all DoD personnel everywhere and your families: thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

From → History

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