We just celebrated one of the biggest holidays in America. Compared with the 4rth of July or Christmas, Thanksgiving Day is unique to this land. Almost all countries celebrate their Independence Day and universally accept Christmas as a religious day. However, Thanksgiving carries a special meaning. It was created to give thanks to God Almighty. Over the centuries, the day has become a day to enjoy food, friendship and family gathering - the mainstay of the celebration. This day in the life of everybody, for a brief moment, the burning issues of the time take a back seat.

The very first thanksgiving in America was celebrated by the pilgrims who came to settle in a newly discovered land. A handful of white settlers faced a harsh winter and nagging suspicion of the original inhabitants. There were wild animals and mosquitos. The pilgrims had no idea what to grow. They had to learn from the locals. The situation was helped immensely when John Smith, one of their own, developed a friendship with a young woman named Pocahontas. This particular relationship between a man and a woman paved the way for the safety and survival of the settlers. With the help of the locals the newcomers were able to grow some food. Above all else, they were able to survive a whole year. Now, they knew what to expect from Mother Nature. The pilgrims were religious people. With heartfelt gratitude they celebrated a day of thanksgiving with their "Neighbors".

In the intervening years the United States has made much progress. It has contributed to the growth and prosperity of many around the world. At the same time its cruelty also has reached far and wide. The white settlers made life miserable for American Indians who lived here long before the white settlers here got their foothold. American Indians today live mostly in areas and conditions quite unlike their White neighbors. Then there are American Blacks whose ancestors were brought in as slaves in chains from various countries of the Western part of Africa. Muslim traders brought in human cargo and Christian farmers were too eager to buy them so that additional hands could increase their wealth by producing cotton, tobacco and grain. Even today, the American society as a whole continues to suffer from the sins of slavery of bygone days.

America's journey from its beginning up to now has not been smooth sailing. In many occasions it faced frightening storms. One of them was the Civil War. In the mid-1800s the northern part of America became industrialized and needed labor who could think and work independently. In the South where wealth came from farmland the farmers needed cheap labor. Having slaves helped them. Even founding fathers who declared "All men are created equal," owned slaves and plantations. Christian morality worked on both sides. Abolition of slavery and inferiority of a black slave to his/ her white master were defended in the name of God and Nature. The issues had to be settled on the battle field. The South was defeated and slavery was abolished but this cost Abraham Lincoln his life. The President was shot while enjoying a play at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C.

There have been many crises since the Civil War. America's involvement in both World Wars and then in places like Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and Afghanistan has earned it both hatred and laurels. By helping to improve lives economically and socially in faraway lands Americans have done a good job in introducing their own ideas of liberty and democracy. Both American society and American government cannot operate without a degree of openness. However, an open society where views are exchanged freely becomes a big challenge for many countries and their systems of governing. They push back any which way they can and sometimes they become successful. It is easy to thwart an external attack. But if the attack comes from within, then it becomes much more difficult to defeat. Many thoughtful Americans are worried about this scenario today while they count their blessings on this Thanksgiving.

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