This editorial was first published in American Rifleman, November 1961.
The fourth Thursday in November is set apart each in the United States of America for thanksgiving and praise to God as a public acknowledgment of divine goodness and mercies.
The first American Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in 1621 during the second winter the Plymouth colonists spent in the New World. It was a day of feasting and prayer, to show the gratitude of the colonists that they were still alive. The custom spread from Plymouth to other colonies, and since 1863 it has been a national observance. The New England Thanksgiving in the middle of the 19th century featured a community raffle of fowls on Thanksgiving Eve and a shooting match in the morning. Today, the trend is to family activities.
There will be many editorials written and many sermons delivered during the next few weeks on the subject of America's reason for giving thanks. To each writer and to each speaker there will be some particular reason for the call to Thanksgiving. This is as it should be because to every segment of our society there have come advantages and opportunities of specific benefit and appeal. Some of these benefits are tangible and quickly recognized. Others are intangible and require a sense of values to be fully appreciated.
One of the intangible benefits for which all Americans should be thankful is the fact that our forefathers were endowed with a love of liberty and founded our government on principles of human dignity and freedom of the individual. The basic liberties guaranteed to the people in the Constitution of the United States are a priceless heritage which has continued to develop over the years through the persistent efforts of freedom-loving people.
Shooter-sportsmen and gun owners have a particular reason to be grateful for the basic freedom of the American way of life. They, more than most Americans, appreciate and value the significance of one of those basic freedoms-the right to keep and bear arms. The National Rifle Association of America, composed of more than 450,000 patriotic citizens whose many varied interests touch common ground in a concern for guns and shooting and in love country, endeavors to promote and sustain this basic American freedom. It believes in the fundamental right of an individual to keep and bear arms and stands squarely behind the premise that the lawful ownership of firearms must not be denied American citizens of good repute, so long as they continue to use such weapons for lawful purposes.
Like the early settlers at Plymouth, we have much for which to be thankful. Let us show our gratitude for the many benefits, both tangible and intangible, which we have received. Also, let us rededicate our efforts to cherish these benefits and protect them for our children and our children's children on this Thanksgiving Day.