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When Americans sit right down to our turkey dinners on Thursday, Nov. 25, we might be marking the four-hundredth anniversary of what has come to be referred to as the First Thanksgiving.  

As each lady and boy learns from an early age, the First Thanksgiving came about in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the autumn of 1621, when the 52 English settlers referred to as the Pilgrims and 90 Native warriors from the Wampanoag confederation of Indian tribes shared a three-day harvest feast.  

In our cynical age, the knowledge embodied in the story of the First Thanksgiving can get quick shrift. Yet at its coronary heart, the First Thanksgiving is a heroic story a few second in time when two disparate peoples discovered a technique to come together in concord and respect.  

THANKSGIVING REMINDS US THAT AMERICANS ARE STILL A PEOPLE OF GREAT FAITH

The Pilgrims’ story teaches braveness, persistence, love of liberty and gratitude to God. The Wampanoag demonstrated generosity, neighborliness and friendship in their gives of help to the newcomers. We and subsequent generations of Americans can proceed to study from the First Thanksgiving and be impressed by it. 

Toward that objective, let me suggest the revival of a Thanksgiving customized that can assist us bear in mind. It bears a curious title, “Five Kernels of Corn.” This refers to a Nineteenth-century observe of inserting 5 kernels of dried corn on the Thanksgiving desk in remembrance of the First Thanksgiving.  

The 5 kernels of corn on the Thanksgiving desk carry a number of ranges of significance.

The custom received its begin in 1820 on Forefathers’ Day, a now principally forgotten vacation marking the arrival of the Mayflower in Plymouth on Dec. 22, 1620. The event was a big dinner following Daniel Webster’s celebrated oration honoring the Pilgrims on the bicentennial of their arrival in Plymouth. 

In his speech, Webster reminded his listeners that we’re “not mere insulated beings, without relation to the past or the future.” We should depart for future generations “some proof that we hold the blessings transmitted from our fathers in just estimation.”  

Among the blessings he listed was a want to advertise all the pieces that will “improve the hearts of men,” a class that absolutely contains Thanksgiving. 

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At this grand dinner, held at Plymouth’s imposing new courthouse and served on commemorative china that had been commissioned from a kiln in Staffordshire, England, every diner discovered 5 kernels of corn at his place setting. These have been humble reminders of the rationale for the anniversary. They represented the ravenous time, when the Pilgrims had little to eat, and legend has it that they survived on a day by day ration of 5 kernels of parched Indian corn. 

The legend of the 5 kernels of corn is sort of definitely simply that – a legend. There is not any point out of it in the journal of Plymouth Gov. William Bradford or different major sources. But that didn’t cease the observe from taking up a lifetime of its personal. Soon 5 kernels of corn have been showing on Thanksgiving tables throughout the nation.  

(EncounterBooks, in paperback Oct. 5, 2021).