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Thanksgiving Day!

TODAY we celebrate Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. The day is marked by giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and the preceding year.

Thanksgiving can be traced back to a 1621 feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to celebrate a successful harvest. While this event was not officially called “Thanksgiving” at the time, it is often considered a precursor to the modern holiday.

President Abraham Lincoln officially proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 during the Civil War. The holiday was set as the final Thursday in November, and later, in 1941, it was officially established as the fourth Thursday in November by Congress.

A significant aspect of Thanksgiving is the practice of expressing gratitude. Many people take time to reflect on the things they are thankful for and share these sentiments with others.  Thanksgiving is often characterized by gatherings of family and friends. People travel long distances to be with loved ones, and the day is marked by sharing a festive meal and expressing gratitude for the blessings in one’s life.

The menu typically includes a roasted turkey, stuffing (or dressing), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and a variety of side dishes like green beans, sweet potatoes, and corn. Pumpkin pie is a popular dessert.

Many cities host Thanksgiving Day parades, the most famous being the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, featuring giant balloons, floats, and performances. Additionally, American football has become a Thanksgiving tradition, with numerous games taking place throughout the day.

The day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday, marking the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. It’s a day when retailers offer significant discounts, and many people take advantage of sales to kick off their holiday shopping.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, gratitude, and coming together with loved ones. It carries deep cultural and historical significance, emphasizing the importance of appreciation and sharing in the spirit of community.

History Throwback!

TODAY in 1959 The Birdman of Alcatraz is allowed a small taste of freedom

Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” is released from solitary confinement for the first time since 1916. Stroud gained widespread fame and attention when author Thomas Gaddis wrote a biography that trumpeted Stroud’s ornithological expertise.

Stroud was first sent to prison in 1909 after he killed a bartender in a brawl. He had nearly completed his sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas when he stabbed a guard to death in 1916. Though he claimed to have acted in self-defense, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. A handwritten plea by Stroud’s mother to President Woodrow Wilson earned Stroud a commuted sentence of life in permanent solitary confinement.

For the next 15 years, Stroud lived amongst the canaries that were brought to him by visitors and became an expert in birds and ornithological diseases. But after being ordered to give up his birds in 1931, he redirected his energies to writing about them and published his first book on ornithology two years later. When the publisher failed to pay Stroud royalties because he was barred from filing suit, Stroud took out advertisements complaining about the situation. Prison officials retaliated by sending him to Alcatraz, the federal prison with the worst conditions.

(excerpted from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-birdman-of-alcatraz-is-allowed-a-small-taste-of-freedom)

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