November 22, 2018 – Some of the Pilgrims left Leiden in the Netherlands for their long and fateful trip to the New World in 1620. Many of them worshipped at the Pieterskerk in Leiden. Some of the traditions of a Thanksgiving feast are said to have come with the Pilgrims from the Netherlands, perhaps learned during the celebratory feast after the siege of Leiden by the Spanish was lifted in 1574. Chargé d’Affaires Shawn Crowley made remarks on the occasion of the Thanksgiving Day Service in the Pieterskerk this year. They follow below:
Good morning. My wife Sabine and I are delighted to be here in the beautiful city of Leiden once again. We are personally thankful for the opportunity to serve with wonderful colleagues in The Hague and Amsterdam, and for living in such an interesting and welcoming country. We are thankful for the opportunity to be with you today and for the work of those who organized today’s event. As I said last year, we are also thankful that the United States’ connection with the Netherlands is our longest, unbroken, peaceful relationship with any nation in the world.
Thanksgiving is the most American of holidays. It embodies our optimism in focusing on the positive things in our lives. It reveals our willingness to help those facing hardship, such as the many families who have lost loved ones and homes in the California fires. And it represents our ability to maintain the bonds of family and friendship across our great nation and around the world. Sabine and I are thankful to have our Aunt and Uncle from Texas here with us today.
Please allow me now to read excerpts from the Thanksgiving proclamation signed by President Trump.
Quote: “On Thanksgiving Day, we recall the courageous and inspiring journey of the Pilgrims who, nearly four centuries ago, ventured across the vast ocean to flee religious persecution and establish a home in the New World. They faced illness, harsh conditions, and uncertainty, as they trusted in God for a brighter future. … Thanksgiving Day is a time to pause and to reflect, with family and friends, on our heritage and the sacrifices of our forebearers who secured the blessings of liberty for an independent, free, and united country.
After surviving a frigid winter and achieving their first successful harvest in 1621, the Pilgrims set aside three days to feast and give thanks for God’s abundant mercy and blessings. Members of the Wampanoag tribe — who had taught the Pilgrims how to farm in New England and helped them adjust and thrive in that new land — shared in the bounty and celebration. In recognition of that historic event, President George Washington, in 1789, issued a proclamation declaring the first national day of thanksgiving. … President
Abraham Lincoln revived this tradition as our fractured nation endured the horrors of the Civil War. Ever since, we have set aside this day to give special thanks to God for the many blessings, gifts, and love he has bestowed on us and our country.
This Thanksgiving, as we gather in places of worship and around tables surrounded by loved ones, in humble gratitude for the bountiful gifts we have received, let us keep in close memory our fellow Americans who have faced hardship and tragedy. … In the spirit of generosity and compassion, let us joyfully reach out in word and deed, and share our time and resources throughout our communities. Let us also find ways to give to the less fortunate whether it be in the form of sharing a hearty meal, extending a helping hand, or providing words of encouragement. … We also commit to treating all with charity and mutual respect, spreading the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout our country and across the world.
Today, we particularly acknowledge the sacrifices of our service members, law enforcement personnel, and first responders who selflessly serve and protect our nation. … We pray for their safety, and for the families who await their return.” End quote.
Again, thank you all for coming today. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving and hope your day is filled with family, food, and football.