Thursday, Nov. 25, 1943
Today, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed the observance of the holiday that celebrates refugees. Yes, Thanksgiving honors the day is 1621 when one group of refugees, the Wampanoag, honored another group, the Pilgrims, as the New England winter closed in. Although we speak of “Native Americans,” no humans were actually native to this continent. Some small band, probably from Asia, crossed a land bridge, braved cold and mastodons, and made their home in “the land of the free.” The Wampanoag were their descendants. Food in hand, they came to celebrate the successful harvest of another band of refugees, the Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England. This is an old, old story in America and it is what makes our country great. “Give me your huddled masses yearning to breath free” reads the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty, words penned by Emma Lazarus, another descendant of refugees.