A Park Forest Thanksgiving Proclamation Worth Reading

John Ostenburg, Tom Mick, Village Board, Park Forest, Thanksgiving proclamation
Mayor John Ostenburg listens as Village Manager Tom Mick delivers his report at Monday’s meeting of the Village Board. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Mayor John Ostenburg read a Thanksgiving proclamation at Monday’s board meeting that caught my attention. This was not your “normal” proclamation, whatever that means. Frankly, I’ve heard most of them, and their language has changed very little through the years. Whether for a holiday or a special month, the fact that they exist is important. To hear a Thanksgiving proclamation that was fresh and spoke in such an inclusive manner, that caught my ear.

Spoke with Village Manager Tom Mick this morning. He said the proclamation was written by Mayor John Ostenburg, and reflects work Park Forest is focusing on through the Race, Equity, and Leadership (REAL) initiative of the National League of Cities.

Mayor Ostenburg certainly speaks to the current political clime of America today.

The Thanksgiving proclamation cites the original event “when Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in 1621,” “inviting the indigenous peoples with whom they had become acquainted to feast with them in what would be the first ‘diversity dinner’ celebrated on the shores of the New World.”

Diversity Dinners are near and dear to Park Forest.

Mayor Ostenburg goes on to tout that first dinner as “a prophetic indication of what America best might become, a land whose diverse peoples might blessedly feast on their fellowship with one another.”

A prophetic indication of what America best might become.

Are we there yet? How far must we still go?

Toward that, the mayor’s proclamation continues, “While we acknowledge that acrimonious differences often divide the citizens of our nation today, we nonetheless also recognize that we have much to be thankful for, including our freedom to voice our differing opinions, our freedom to worship as we please, our freedom to love whom we choose, our freedom to live where we desire, our freedom to learn, to work, to enjoy the benefits of good health, and so much more.”

What are some things for which we are thankful? From the proclamation:

  • We are a nation of immigrants and we owe a sacred obligation to honor the traditions that have been passed to us by those who traveled far to cultivate this great land into the fertile and productive place that we all call home;
  • The indigenous peoples who preserved this land for long periods of time prior the arrival of the Pilgrims and other early settlers (Editor’s note: 25,000 – 40,000 years by estimation of scholars);
  • The fabric of our nation also includes many whose ancestors were brought here not for the dream of a better life for themselves but as persons of bondage but whose contributions to our nation nonetheless have been many and significant beyond measure.

The text of the proclamation follows. The original document is posted in Village Hall.

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

WHEREAS, the seed for an annual day of Thanksgiving in what would become the United States of America was planted when Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in 1621; and

WHEREAS, the Pilgrims marked the occasion by inviting the indigenous peoples with whom they had become acquainted to feast with them in what would be the first “diversity dinner” celebrated on the shores of the New World; and

WHEREAS, the celebration not only was one of giving thanks but also a prophetic indication of what America best might become, a land whose diverse peoples might blessedly feast on their fellowship with one another; and

WHEREAS, the Pilgrim celebration became inspiration in 1863 for President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the great civil war that was being fought, not with foreign nations but rather with other states of our own American nation, to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated in an effort toward unity by calling attention to all that America and its citizens had, and have, to be thankful for; and

WHEREAS, while we acknowledge that acrimonious differences often divide the citizens of our nation today, we nonetheless also recognize that we have much to be thankful for, including our freedom to voice our differing opinions, our freedom to worship as we please, our freedom to love whom we choose, our freedom to live where we desire, our freedom to learn, to work, to enjoy the benefits of good health, and so much more; and

WHEREAS, as we celebrate our thanksgiving meals each with our own family and friends, may we all be aware that we are a nation of immigrants and we owe a sacred obligation to honor the traditions that have been passed to us by those who traveled far to cultivate this great land into the fertile and productive place that we all call home; likewise, let us be thankful to the indigenous peoples who preserved this land for long periods of time prior the arrival of the Pilgrims and other early settlers; and equally may be recognized that the fabric of our nation also includes many whose ancestors were brought here not for the dream of a better life for themselves but as persons of bondage but whose contributions to our nation nonetheless have been many and significant beyond measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, DO I, John A. Ostenburg, Mayor of the Village ofPark Forest, Illinois, in the counties of Cook and Will, hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2018, in concert with the celebrations marked elsewherein our great nation, a day of Thanksgiving in our community; and

FURTHERMORE, by virtue of this proclamation, may all our residents recognize the wonderful heritage that isours and offer prayers of thanksgiving on that day, and every day, for the manyblessings we enjoy in large part because of the struggles of those who havegone before us; and

FURTHERMORE, elsewhere in of his proclamation, do we express to those who have, and do, serve in military units of the United States, both at home and abroad, our most many blessings for their heroic efforts in maintaining and preserving the safety have gone of the United States of America.

To which have I set my hand this day, November 16, 2018.

John A. Ostenburg, Mayor