Commentary: Optimism on Thanksgiving

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scripps Howard News Service
The presidential Thanksgiving proclamation has become an annual rite. The most famous was Abraham Lincoln’s in 1863, “in the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity.”
Here, for the record, is part of President Obama’s proclamation:
“I encourage all the people of the United States to come together, whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place where family, friends and neighbors may gather, with gratitude for all we have received in the past year …”
Americans do not need any encouragement to gather; 117 million American households celebrate Thanksgiving in some fashion or other, and they make heroic efforts to travel to do so. The AAA estimates that 33.2 million Americans are be on the road this week.
There is reason to be thankful for that figure, an increase over last year, when the recession caused Thanksgiving travel to shrink dramatically. It is perhaps an indication that travelers are feeling a little better about their economic prospects. Still, almost half of those surveyed about why they were not traveling for the holiday cited economic worries or a job loss.
These are tough economic times, but nothing like the nation faced in the fall of 1863. If Lincoln could be optimistic, we can, too. Happy Thanksgiving.