As I am about to sit down to a veritable feast with family and friends, I am reminded of a little known fact - where I sit is just a stone's throw away from the setting of America’s first Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation located on the beautiful James River in Charles City, Virginia. That Mayflower crowd had nothing on this brave group of men who were greeted by the King of England's representive in the person of Alexander Spotswood, the first Governor of Virginia.
“On December 4, 1619, a group of 38 settlers, led by Captain John Woodlief, arrived at Berkeley Plantation in Virginia, from Bristol, England. On the banks of the James River the Englishmen proclaimed, “We ordaine that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned for plantacon, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.””
It's pretty easy to imagine why those early settlers wanted to thank "Almighty God" for their safe arrival. Their trip from England took them more than 4 months with no guarantee that they would ever see Virginia's shores. Few doubt that it took brave men and women to win the freedoms we enjoy as Americans every day. Luckily, that courage combined with a willingness to risk everything to hold on to freedoms we hold dear is an integral part of our genetic make-up. I am thankful for this enduring spirit which has taken our nation through good times and bad.
So, have you counted your blessings today?