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It's a special day in a special week. Thanksgiving, officially declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, remains the least commercialized of America's major holidays -- unless you count that it is considered by many the official beginning of the Christmas season.

Thanksgiving week also brings two other celebrations -- both inseparably linked to the first Thanksgiving and Thanksgivings of our future.

It's Farm-City Week across America, an observance aimed at fostering understanding among people from urban and rural environments.

Even though so much of South Carolina can hardly be called urban, farming is quite foreign to most people. That's true even in Orangeburg, the state's leading agricultural county.

Estimates have it that 80 percent of the American public is three generations or more removed from the farm. For our survival, it is vital that Americans remain in touch with agriculture. It feeds us.

Thanksgiving celebrates the bountiful harvest, one of the blessings bestowed upon us by a loving God. National Bible Week couldn't come at a more appropriate time.

The very foundation of the first Thanksgiving was religious freedom -- people willing to flee religious oppression to worship as they believed.

Through it all, they gave thanks.

So many times throughout history, from those Pilgrims to the soldiers facing the big battles in World War II, Americans facing desperate times decided to pause and give thanks. It is the fabric of our nation ''under God.''

Picture Lincoln in 1863, the president of a nation in the midst of civil war. At that moment in time, he wrote the proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Lincoln's words: ''The year that has been drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come ... I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States ... to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.''

Pollsters tell us that Americans have become ignorant of our history. It is ignorance that we can't afford.

Understanding the agrarian and religious roots of our free nation are essential to its survival. Thanksgiving is about those roots.


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