Recently a relative sent me pictures taken from America’s national archives of life during the depression years of the 1930’s and 40’s.  They were pictures from across America of our distressed citizens going about their lives during tough times.  Many of the pictures portrayed people in ordinary settings that demonstrated their social activities, their work, and their family life.  I noticed it was rare to see someone smiling.  The quality of life was in most instances very grim in comparison to what we enjoy today.  I could relate to some of what I saw.  I was born in 1946 and things weren’t so great when I was a child either.  I see similar pictures of my very early life with family around me.  No one was smiling much then either.  But things soon began to change.

I have read stories about some of my ancestors.  They came to America in the early 1600’s, arriving in a boat from Holland.  They were not wealthy by any means, and their first home in the new world was most likely in a root cellar, dug into the ground.  That sounds so foreign to how we live, but those people were willing to put themselves through great deprivation and hardship to attain the wonderful opportunities they hoped were waiting for them.  It is my understanding they found what they were looking for, and they became a reasonably successful family. 

America, unlike most nations, was founded by people like my ancestors who were not only looking for opportunity but were also fleeing oppression and religious persecution.  The nation was given stability by those wise enough to establish her laws upon Biblical principles, and was given strength by God’s favor.  Many of our citizens who have served this country are quick to recognize that today. Though she was not perfect, America excelled because she acknowledged God’s protection – our national motto clearly states, “In God we trust.”  And many still proudly proclaim “One nation under God” as they recite their national Pledge of Allegiance.  Many proclaim this, but too many are forgetting their humble beginnings as they allow a different spirit of greed, perverseness, and rebellion to sweep over our land.

With Thanksgiving coming along in just a few days, maybe it’s time we give thought to how much living in America has done for us.  This is a land designed to have long arms that can embrace the many who are seeking a better life. Aren’t we all living proof of her generosity, no matter how we arrived on her shores?  I say that, believing America was planned by our creator to give comfort and blessings to those He knew would be longing for freedom and opportunity and who would be willing to work hard for it.  The nation has shed vast quantities of blood in order to secure those privileges for all her citizens. 

Thanksgiving is a time set aside by our own people to turn inward and reflect upon the blessings we have received.  It’s a pause we need in our busy lives that begs the question – To whom and for what are we thankful?  We should all try to answer that, and as we do, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at those pictures I mentioned earlier.  They are amazing and also very sobering. You can find them at  I hope you will take a moment to look at them. It just might change your outlook for the coming year.