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What People REALLY Need To Remember On Thanksgiving

Updated on November 23, 2012

What too many Americans seem to forget

Right around this time families are getting ready for a holiday in which America started, the first country to set aside a day to give thanks.

Invites to in-laws and distant relatives that you hardly ever see - or those that you don't like and never want to see but bite the bullet because it's a special occasion and family is important - have been sent out.

The turkey and other roast beasts - or tofurkey for all those vegetarians and vegans out there - are getting ready to be cooked.

That big parade featuring those huge balloons of Snoopy, Bullwinkle and Garfield are getting ready to be held in New York City, which will undoubtedly serve as a good diversion and a way to take those folks' minds off of that big superstorm that hit that town just before Halloween, and...

The Lions and Cowboys are practicing hard to kick off their traditional games that are always held on this particular day.

I know that everyone's looking forward to chowing down and going around the table saying what they are thankful for, whether it's their health, a new job, their house being saved from foreclosure, or President Obama being re-elected.

Not to mention taking a moment to remember the servicemen in Afghanistan and other places, or even going to the local mission and serving dinner to those folks who don't have anywhere else to go.

Indeed, Thanksgiving is a good day, a day to look back and do what the holiday says: be thankful.

However, there's something that people in this country should keep in mind as the roast beasts are being eaten and the pigskin is being watched, which is this...

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that was made possible by Native Americans.

"What?!" some may exclaim incredulously. "You mean the Pilgrims didn't have anything to do with it?! How blasphemous that you're not giving those sturdy people who landed on Plymouth Rock their due!"

No, I'm NOT discounting the Pilgrims, or Separatists as they were originally called, in any way, shape, or form.

But we all must keep in mind that if it wasn't for the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts, there would have never been a Thanksgiving day for us to enjoy because all of those Pilgrims would have died out during that first winter they were in that Plymouth colony in 1620.

It was Samoset, Chief Massasoit, and the rest of their Wampanoag mates who taught those Pilgrims how to plant corn and other vegetables and fruits and to hunt those big gobbling birds; essentially it was those Native Americans who enabled those Brits - who were actually Dutch by origin and went to England first to get way from religious persecution in Holland - to survive and the reason they all got together and partied that day in 1621.

And what did those Wampanoags get for their lifesaving generosity?

While there are many people who proudly say that they can trace their ancestry to the Mayflower, I remember learing about the Wampanoags' fate in an American History class that I took in college:

After that very successful first Thanksgiving, it became an annual event. And largely thanks to those natives, the Plymouth colony grew to the point that after ten years or so, a big fort was built to hold everyone, which was where the Thanksgiving feasts were held.

Well, according to what my professor told me and the rest of my class, in 1636 the Wampanoags showed up for the annual shindig, and the next thing they knew after the food was eaten and the drinks were drunk, the gates of the fort were locked, a fire was set, and they were all burned alive.

That's why it's a fact that while there are many descendants of those Pilgrims, there's not one descendant of that Wampanoag tribe today - that's right, they are all gone.

Extinct.

Wiped out.

It was just one of what would turn out to be many instances of how the Native Americans, or "Indians" were taken advantage of and abused in this country. So much so that as far as this particular day, I was told that while it's a day of thanks for us, it's a day of mourning for the Indians.

Does all of this mean that I'm advocating canceling this holiday because of the Pilgrims' abuses? Certainly not!

Please understand that I like this holiday; eating turkey (though I have to be careful because of my gout, which eating too much of that bird causes), watching football games (though I'm not particularly a fan of the Lions or the Cowboys) and especially taking the leftovers home and having a good food supply for a while.

But I just feel that before the food is eaten and the Black Friday Christmas shopping commences the next day people should take some time to remember and give at least a little homage to the ones who gave us this holiday and not only got the shaft for it, they were completely wiped out.

That's really all I am saying. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.



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