How was Thanksgiving Day at your house? Big day? Festive feast day? Or perhaps only a quiet, meal shared by two. This writer has known all of the above.

One unique memory was a Thanksgiving meal in my Air Corps Squadron in 1945. We were stationed in the Philippines at the close of the war.

Entering the mess hall, my buddy and I were surprised to see who would be serving us. It was the squadron colonel and his staff of officers. I thought, "Only in America!" Don't know where they got the turkeys, but the whole dinner equaled anything stateside.

That scene also came to mind a few years ago when I read Colin Powell's book, "My American Journey". In it, he relates a military ceremony when he was about to leave Korea and return to the states. The entire unit was in ranks on the parade ground. Powell was among the officers who were at the head of this large assembly.

Then the commanding general gave a special order, "Officers! About face! Now, salute those men!" ... My kind of Army. And typical of the lessons in life learned by Powell throughout his years in the Army. Any chance he might fill the role of Secretary of State again?

Back to Thanksgiving Day, it's interesting to note again that the three presidents who were instrumental in establishing the holiday as we know it today were George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.


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Washington's proclamation in 1789 set the date for giving thanks as Nov. 26; In 1863, Lincoln reset it to the last Thursday of the month; and FDR moved it again to the fourth Thursday in November.

By tradition, presidents were presented with White House dinner turkeys for many years until Ronald Reagan decided to pardon the bird. From then on each president issues a pardon and the lucky creature is commuted to a pen somewhere on the Capitol grounds.

Thinking of the army incidents mentioned above, I'm reminded of something the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer, said while being interviewed by Eric Severeid on prime-time TV. Anyone who describes Americans and doesn't include the word "kind" doesn't know Americans. Along that line, let's continue to hope our "kind" members of Congress will work together so their kind constituents can get back on stable economic footing

It should be added that anyone who hasn't read Hoffer's Pulitzer Prize winning "True Believer" has short-changed his or her education. If you want to learn why certain groups vote the way they do, read it.

And finally, this humble columnist gives thanks, not only for being born in the USA, but for being delivered into the 20th century. The "good old days" weren't as good as some would have you believe.

Contact Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.