Thanksgiving means actual, not contrived, inclusiveness. President Abraham Lincoln profoundly demonstrates this fundamental point.

On Oct. 3, 1863, the White House issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation, declaring the last Thursday of November to be a “day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” The proclamation also requested “the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore … peace, harmony, and Union.”

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Arthur I. Cyr is Clausen Distinguished Professor at Carthage College and author of "After the Cold War" (NYU Press and Macmillan). Readers can wrote to him at acyr@carthage.edu.