Greeting, Gentle Readers,

Thanksgiving Day is often referred to as "turkey day", now. I had never heard it called that until somewhere in the 1980s. Now I hear it all the time.

When my husband heard it called that, he told me how much it hurt him. He was one of those who spent World War II in Europe. He was only a small child when the war started, but he lived in Amsterdam, Holland, and the Germans roared into that city on May 5, 1940. He says he was awakened in the wee hours of that day by the roar of German tanks, as they took over Holland.

That war was a horrifying experience for a young child. He was completely dependent on his mother, since the Dutch men began to be taken captive right away. Any man who fought back was shot, immediately. If anyone took part in any resistance, all the men left in that block of houses were brought downstairs at gun point, lined up against the wall of the building, and machine-gunned down. That tactic worked most successfully to keep the populace docile.
By the time the war was over, those who had not starved to death were, nonetheless, so badly starved it took the Red Cross about six weeks to get individuals to be able eat food, without dying from the simple act of eating.

During the war, especially toward the end, the starvation was so ubiquitous that every morning a flat-bed, horse-drawn wagon came through the streets of Amsterdam, and the people would carry their dead down the stairs of the apartment buildings to be carried away for burial.
When my husband was 21 he came to America. He was so overwhelmed by the degree of freedom we, and now he, enjoyed in this country that Thanksgiving Day was a truly sacred day to him.

The first time he heard it referred to as "turkey day", he was horrified. He couldn’t believe so many of our people had come to recognize and revere their freedom so little, that they would call this day, which was so important to him, anything but Thanksgiving Day.

When he died, I suspect one of his first acts was to visit the founding fathers of this nation and express his deeply-held gratitude for the gift of freedom he had found in this country. He probably spent time with my several ancestors who fought to make this country what it came to be, letting them know how he valued their struggles and sacrifices.

Now, if only those of us left here could come to recognize what an aberration our freedom is in this nasty old world. Perhaps, the only ones of us who can truly do so are those who have served in our armed forces, and especially those who have seen combat.

There is one thing I would love to see, and that is for our people to express their gratitude for their freedom to those who have fought for that freedom. Those who have done so have seen how life really is in the nastier places on this tired old planet. They have seen the viciousness to which a great deal of the inhabitants of this globe are subjected every day of their lives.

Please. This Thanksgiving Day, if you see anyone who has served, thank them. They deserve that and more, but anyone of us can do that much. Next, please thank the God we worship for this gift. That is what the term "thanksgiving" really meant. It was not meant as thanksgiving to anyone else, even the Indians who helped the pilgrims. Only our God can preserve our freedom. No other force on this earth can do so, so lets remember just what this day is really all about.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.


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2 comments:

    MARJA said...

    Dear Mrs. Sluyter,

    I understand and totally agree with you.
    I didn't know Thanksgiving was referred to as "turkeyday" until a couple of years ago.
    I think it's very disrespectful to all those who sacrificed so much and gave their life for our freedom.
    Every year on May 4th here in the Netherlands, we remember those who died, and on May 5th we celebrate our freedom. There is a small group of people who would like to see that changed. They say "it's not of this time"...
    Now THAT really upsets me, because if anything, I believe this really IS of this time!
    Let's express our gratitude to those who gave their life, let's celebrate our freedom, let us all try to NEVER let those horrifying things happen again.
    X Marja

  1. ... on November 27, 2008 at 5:44 AM  
  2. Cindy Beck said...

    Muriel,
    You make a good point in this blog. I've often called Thanksgiving, "Turkey Day", and although no disrespect was intended, I can see now that it devalues the sacrfices the Pilgrims, and others, have made for religious freedom.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. ... on November 29, 2008 at 10:11 AM