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First Thanksgivings

By David W Roach 

  Years ago I visited Plymouth, Massachusetts and saw the famous rock that, according to local legend, the Pilgrims stepped on when getting off the boat. The rock has the date 1620 carved on it.  I was impressed.

  Later, I learned that the Pilgrims never set foot on the rock, the rock was installed centuries later. I was less impressed.

  According to, “the Wampanoag (the local native tribe) … brought five deer. The English brought fowl, … ducks and geese,” but no turkeys.

  Here is yet another truth that leaves me unimpressed. Why do we eat turkey on Thanksgiving if turkeys weren’t on the menu? I’m just asking.

  And the dinner lasted three days.  That would qualify the meal as a feast.

  And the ladies weren’t invited. They probably cooked, but they didn’t eat. The First Thanksgiving was a “guy thing.” Yet another reason to be unimpressed.

  Having grown up in Tidewater Virginia, I happen to know that the First Thanksgiving Feast occurred on the Berkley Plantation on the banks of the James River in 1619, two years before the Pilgrims landed in New England.

  1619 was a pivotal year in the Virginia Colony.  A Dutch ship arrived at Jamestown bringing the first African slaves to the colony. Also in that year, Virginia convened the first elected legislative assembly in America. In the decades that followed, the  men who served in the Virginia House of Burgesses went on to contribute to the writing of the US Constitution.

  When the first workers arrived from England to start clearing land for the Berkley Plantation, they knelt on the beach and prayed, “We ordain that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantation, in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”  That was on December 4th 1619, 1 year and 17 days before the Pilgrim feasts.

  Now I don’t care who gets credit for the First Thanksgiving. I do care that we give thanks to God frequently. God has blessed us with a great and beautiful country and we should give thanks early and often. The worst thing that could happen is for us to take God’s blessings for granted. That’s the path that leads to destruction.

  Jesus once said, “The road to destruction is broad and traveled by many, but the road to salvation is narrow and hard to follow.”  On this coming Day of Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for all God’s blessings. Then let us pray that we live lives worthy of continued blessings. That’s a hard, narrow road, but it is the only road to greatness.