Opinion: Challenges of holidays past still show way forward


The first rough drafts of history that are newspapers can offer valuable perspective during the year-end holidays. They prove that troubled times are nothing new to our country, and world.

A Thanksgiving Day 1967 column by The Atlanta Constitution’s Ralph McGill, reprinted here today, included this paragraph that could have been written right now: “The winter is cold. There are new graves. There are the fearful. There are those who want to turn back. There are the disloyal and the fanatically dissenting. But there is much today for which to be thankful. The long, hard, symbolic winter will end. There will be a summer and a good sustaining harvest for those who endure.” McGill even used the word “terror” in his missive of half a century ago. It meant the same thing then, as now.

Americans in bygone days persevered, as we must do today. An excerpt from the Thanksgiving Day editorial of 1942’s The Atlanta Constitution remains relevant, one wartime age speaking to another:

“We, with all the world, are passing through a time of tribulation and of trial. Yet, slowly but surely, we are awakening to the truth that out of this trial we are gaining something of immeasurable value.

For we are learning to understand our brothers, all over the world, better. We are learning the truth of Thine ancient wisdom; that it is more blessed to give than to receive; that all men are their brothers’ keeper; that only through sacrifice shall the bread of happiness return to us in manifold degree.

True, we weep as we hear of the death in battle of our loved ones. But even then, dear Lord, we are thankful they were granted the privilege of dying, as die we all must, for a cause that makes death glorious and that shall enshrine their names for all time among the company of the heroes and the saints. And we pray, even as we give thanks, that we may forget the failures that have gone before and look only forward to the victories of the spirit that are to come.

Let us then, as we give thanks for all the blessings of yesterday and today, realize we fight, always, the forces of material and of spiritual evil, not to retain the old and faulty ways we have known, but to create a better and a nobler world. A world, dear Lord, that shall lift humanity, made in Thy image, nearer to Thee.

This, dear Lord, be our prayer on this Day of Thanksgiving, this year of the war, 1942.”

A look back reaffirms the importance of never taking for granted either the simplest or grandest things of this fleeting life. That’s worth remembering as we enjoy fellowship with friends and family this Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: Thoughts toward ending America’s ‘Water Wars’

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court tried to end not one but two interstate water wars. One, between Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, argues that New Mexico has violated a 1938 agreement by over-pumping groundwater, while the other, between Florida and Georgia, argues that Georgia’s breakneck development has slowed the flow of water to...
Opinion: What’s good for Amazon is good for the gander

Amazon this past week eliminated 218 cities from its HQ2 sweepstakes, and Atlanta wasn’t one of them. Instead, Atlanta made the 20-city “short list” of candidates still in the hunt for a $5 billion investment and 50,000 high-paying jobs. Celebration is not only premature but a bit unseemly. There’s a long way to go, and it would...
Opinion: Settling ‘Water Wars’ still best solution

Two, and sometimes three, states have been here before. This newspaper’s essentially written this editorial before. Yet the water wars continue with a latest round of courtroom maneuvering in the decades-long battle over the water system that supplies Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in...
Opinion: Memo to rural Georgia: Sorry, no
Opinion: Memo to rural Georgia: Sorry, no

Rural Georgia is in deep trouble, and the attention now being paid to its challenges by state leadership is long overdue. Lifespans are shrinking; jobs are disappearing. Rural hospitals are struggling to keep their doors open, and health-care professionals and the network they sustain are evaporating. The opioid epidemic is taking a heartbreaking toll...
Opinion: Collaboration makes metro Atlanta national leader on water

For decades, Georgia’s neighboring states have engaged in legal battles with us over our shared water resources. Earlier this month, the issue reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by Florida that seeks to limit Georgia’s use of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin. The...
More Stories