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Thanksgiving In America    

  By: Dr. Jake Jacobs
   Published : November 17, 2017

As we approach our Christian holiday of Thanksgiving, I reflect on my favorite Norman Rockwell painting from the cover of “The Saturday Evening Post” magazine’s November 27, 1943 edition. I so love Rockwell’s painting “Refugee Thanksgiving,” I have it hanging in my office.

Many American GI's died on the soil of Italy liberating Italians from the oppression of Nazism. When you look at the young "liberated" Italian girl, you see her praying, as we imagine she is thanking God for her food and freedom. We see in Rockwell's classic painting a GI's canteen kit and a US Army sergeant's jacket wrapped around this young Italian girl, symbolizing America's sacrifice, generosity, and commitment to liberty around the world.

The motto of the US Army Special Forces is, “De Oppresso Liber,” which has been customarily translated to mean liberate or to free the oppressed.

That motto is the personification of the liberating spirit that makes the soul of America and patriotic Americans, exceptional. Thank you, U.S. Armed Forces, for helping make our Republic exceptional and a shining city upon a hill.

Another classic painting related to Thanksgiving is George H. Boughton’s "The Pilgrims Going to Church” (1867). In Houghton's Hudson River School-style painting you see Pilgrims carrying guns and Geneva Bibles on the way to church.

According to the 1599 Geneva Bible website, "When the Pilgrims arrived in the New World in 1620, they brought along supplies, a consuming passion to advance the Kingdom of Christ, and the Word of God. Clearly, their most precious cargo was the Bible – specifically, the 1599 Geneva Bible. All but forgotten in our day, this version of the Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.”

The website continues, “A superb translation, [the Geneva Bible] was the product of the best Protestant scholars of the day and became the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers and thinkers of that time. Men such as William Shakespeare, John Bunyan, and John Milton used the Geneva Bible in their writings. William Bradford also cited the Geneva Bible in his famous book Of Plymouth Plantation.”

This Bible was so impacting on our Republic’s history that it can be seen in our Capitol’s rotunda in the painting titled “Embarkation of the Pilgrims.” In the painting, pilgrims are seen standing on the deck of the Speedwell on July 22, 1620 in Delfs Haven, Holland. The ship and its passengers were set to sail to North America is pursuance of religious freedom.

Boughton's painting represents the biblical roots of our Republic's First and Second Amendments to our glorious Constitution. The First Amendment explains freedom of religion, while the Second Amendment specifies the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the protection of family and property. While then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 may have ridiculed those Americans who “cling to guns or religion,” those two primary rights have been the fundamental foundation of our great nation.

If they ever go, so goes America.

This Thanksgiving, let us be thankful to Almighty God for our abundant blessings in a thousand different ways and let us remember our Lord, called “the Supreme Judge of the World,” in the Declaration of Independence, who gives us life and liberty through His grace.

May we always be vigilant to preserve those gifts given to us by our Creator.

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