Thanksgiving is around the corner. I wanted to take a break from the politics I usually discuss in this article, and instead reflect on some things we should all be thankful for.

Between the virus and the past election, a lot of folks are concerned and worried about our divided country.

In the fall of 1863, President Lincoln created the Thanksgiving federal holiday. It amazes me that he could think of a reason to give thanks at that point in time. If you think 2020 was a rough year, consider 1863.

That January, the President released the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing millions of Americans from bondage, but enraging the slave-holding states and further deepening the divide in the nation, stoking the fires of war.

In March, the first conscription act began drafting men for the war. Riots raged for days in New York City. The US Navy shelled the city and the US Army shot citizens in the streets. More than 100 people were killed.

The battles of Chancellorsville, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga all happened in 1863. Hundreds of thousands of casualties were suffered on both sides.

I can’t think of a darker time in American history then the fall of 1863. Lincoln didn’t use the proclamation creating the new holiday to score political points or bash the Confederacy. He used it to give thanks for the entire country, even though it was bitterly divided. I think we all can realize that despite all our differences, it’s not 1863 in America. We should all take a lesson from Lincoln and give thanks to everyone. In the end, we’re all Americans and we really do have a lot to be thankful for.

On behalf of all of us here so honored to represent the good people of western Nebraska, I wish you all good health and a blessed Thanksgiving.


Tom Brewer represents Dist. 43 — most of the Sandhills — in the state legislature. Contact his office with any comments, questions, or concerns. Email, mail a letter to Sen. Tom Brewer, Room #1423, P.O. Box 94604, Lincoln, NE 68509, or call (402) 471-2628.