By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday marks the Thanksgiving holiday.
In 1621, a group of religious dissenters left England aboard the Mayflower bound for the English colony in Virginia – founded in 1607. En route they diverted the ship towards the American wilderness and landed near modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts to set up their own colony separate and totally isolated from the Virginians, the then dominant Church of England, and theoretically separate from England. 45 of the 102 immigrants died during that first winter, and there was only one recorded birth. Unlike the Virginians, who quickly got into a decades-long war with the Indians of the Chesapeake Bay area, the pilgrims strived to have friendly relations with the Indians. With tremendous help from the Native Americans, the surviving Pilgrims celebrated a bountiful harvest that would sustain them for the next winter. Following the harvest, they invited their Wampanoag Indian friends to a celebration thanking God that they survived such a dangerous gamble, and the first Thanksgiving was born.
According to the colony’s governor, William Bradford, and future governor, Edward Winslow, the first Thanksgiving meal included onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, peas, corn, potatoes, lobster, bass, clams, oysters, turkey and various waterfowl. The Wampanoag Indians brought an offering of five deer. The pilgrims gave thanks to God, offered prayers and sang hymns in celebration.
In 1628, a much larger colony, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, arrived to create a “New England.” They were shocked to find the hardy pilgrims already there, cementing the pilgrims a place in the history of what would eventually become the United States.
Today, Americans celebrate the day with turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and lots of football on TV. Hopefully, there is also some prayers and fellowship with friends and family.
“Thanksgiving is a special holiday because it offers us an opportunity to pause as a nation and thank God for all the ways He has blessed us. With all that is going on across our country and around the world, it can be easy to lose sight of just how much we have to be thankful for. As we gather with loved ones this Thanksgiving, I hope we can all take time count our many blessings,” U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, said in an email to constituents.
“I’m thankful for the gift of family, for my husband Riley and our two wonderful children, Margaret and George; for our parents and all of our dear family and friends,” Rep. Roby wrote. “I am thankful for this great country and all the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. I’m abundantly grateful for the men and women of our Armed Forces who have put their lives on the line to defend these freedoms especially those who are deployed and away from their families at this very moment.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve my state and country in the United States Congress,” Rep. Roby added. “It is an honor to be in a position to make a difference on behalf of those I represent and to fight to make this country great for all Americans. Thank you for allowing me to represent you. I hope you and your family have a very Happy Thanksgiving. It is an honor to serve you. Please never hesitate to let me know if there is a way my office can be of assistance.”
Original scholarship by Dr. Stan Cooke contributed to this report.