Do we still remember he is the one we thank first and last?
Thank you, G-d, for America.
Thank you for directing Christopher Columbus in the wrong geographical direction when he set sail for India.
Thank you for giving Columbus life, for making him a risk-taker, for inspiring the government of Spain to give gold to a man from Italy to set sail on the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
Thank you for inspiring in the hearts of others leading the governments of Spain and Portugal, when those countries mattered in the Fifteenth Century before they expelled the You-Know-Who People in 1492 (Spain) and 1497 (Portugal), to desire to expand their world influence. So men like Balboa and Cortez and Pizarro and De Soto and so many others took the risks of sailing to a New World, bringing with them a level of culture and sophistication — amid the brutality of their era — that turned this continent on the path to its greater glory.
Thank you for inspiring less bold but still heroic risk-takers to travel here later from England to establish the earliest of colonies, the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke and the one that survived in Jamestown, Virginia.
Thank you for inspiring the early Indians to welcome the newcomers, to introduce them to turkey and succotash and whatever. For the real Pocahontas and the chance to prosper. For the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock.
Thank you for early pioneers like Daniel and Rachel Boone of Kentucky and for other early heroes who explored the new continent, pushed its borders westward, fought off Indians who tried to wipe out early settlements, and for the successes that allowed them to clear the land and to thrive.
Thank you for the heroes of 1776 who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to remove the tyranny of King George from this land and who declared their independence from an England that, looking back, was not even all that bad as tyrannies go (except for their preferring tea to coffee and speaking English kind of weird).
Thank you for George Washington, for the courage of those who crossed the Delaware that fateful night, for the victories over the British and defeating Cornwallis at Yorktown, for Polish assistance we received from Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski, for French help from the likes of the Marquis de Lafayette, for German help from the likes of Wilhelm von Steuben, and for guiding us to freedom.
Thank you for always sending the right hero when we needed him most: for John Adams, for Thomas Jefferson, for James Madison, for James Monroe, for Andrew Jackson, for James Polk, for Abraham Lincoln, for Theodore Roosevelt, for Ronald Reagan.
Thank you for imbuing in this nation a heart of goodness and kindness, a readiness and willingness to acknowledge mistakes, to grow, to improve, and ultimately to be a beacon unto the world for goodness.
Thank you for guiding our Founding Fathers to craft a remarkable Constitution and Bill of Rights that has proven to be the most extraordinary document of governance ever crafted by humans.
Thank you for helping this country through the War of 1812 that saw our White House burned down — and yet our flag was still there on the morrow.
Thank you for seeing us through a Civil War that never should have been needed but that ended with a vision of forgiveness and unifying with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as You gave us to see the right, so that we could strive on to finish the work we were in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who bore the battle and for his widow and his orphan, and to do all which achieved and cherished a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Thank you for guiding us through the horrors of the Twentieth Century: one world war, then another that saw some of the worst inhumanities perpetrated in all of history, a century marked by Stalin’s Holodomor in Ukraine, Turkey’s Medz Yeghern in Armenia, and Hitler’s Shoah in Europe. Through it all, we overcame the horrors directed at us by the Nazi Germans and the Japanese Emperor, and we outlasted and stared down Marxist-Leninist Communism, living to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union.
Grant us the strength to go forth from strength to strength, to overcome those abroad who would threaten our sovereignty and those at home who would cancel our freedoms and destroy our culture, our morals, our society, our children and grandchildren, our color-blind societal fabric, and ultimately our compass that always has guided us towards truth and justice.
Thank you, finally, for allowing those of us who have faced persecution over centuries — for reasons of our race, our ethnicity, our language, or our religious faith — to find a safe haven here.