"Thanksgiving remains," columnist Mark Shields claims, "the most American of all our holidays.
"Thanksgiving belongs to everyone," Shields argues. "It is truly an ecumenical day without sectarian divide. To fully celebrate Thanksgiving, you do not have to belong to any particular religious group or tradition, or for that matter, to belong to any religious group or tradition."
It has been this way for more than 400 years, since even before there was a nation named after the land.
As you'll likely learn elsewhere today, grateful Pilgrims declared a three-day feast, starting Dec. 13, 1621, to thank God after surviving their first year in what would become Massachusetts. But it was not the first such celebration in the New World; thanksgiving services were conducted in Virginia as early as 1607.
And today, those who believe in God again can offer gratitude to our creator for all we have.
And those who do not believe can join in taking this opportunity to express appreciation for everyone who aids their existence.
Thankfully, the list of those who deserve our thanks is long. That roll includes members of the armed services; law officers, firefighters, paramedics, medical technicians and other first responders; and members of institutions - those who give their time, effort and talent to build and guide our communities.
Closer to home (figuratively and, we hope, literally) we can take time today to say "thank you" to our friends, neighbors and family members.
But let us also take a moment to be grateful to those who arrived on these shores all those generations ago. Remember, they arrived without a guarantee of wealth, home, health or even food (so central to today's festivities!), but braved a daunting challenge because of the freedom and opportunity awaiting here.
May we also thank those who endeavor to preserve freedom and opportunity for generations to come.