Thanksgiving Day Message

by Governor Gary R. Herbert

The first recorded thanksgiving celebration in Utah was held on Thursday, August 10, 1848.  The first pioneer settlers had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley just over a year before, and it had been a year of trial and tribulation.

The settlers had arrived too late in the summer to cultivate an adequate harvest for the winter months.  Many survived their first winter in the valley only by eating sego lily roots and thistle greens.  Their first spring crop was largely ruined by late frosts and cricket infestations.

Through perseverance, hard work, and much prayer, the settlers’ midsummer crop flourished.  Finally, there was the prospect of a good harvest.  Following the tradition established by the Pilgrims of Plymouth, a day of thanksgiving was planned to express gratitude for the harvest and to partake of it.

One reveler recorded, “A splendid dinner was spread under the bowery prepared for the occasion and several hundred sat down to a rich repast to which all contributed.”  Another described this day as one of “prayer and thanksgiving, congratulations, songs, speeches, music, dancing, smiling faces and merry hearts.”

Those early settlers would scarcely recognize our modern state.  Built upon the foundation of industriousness left to us by our pioneer forefathers, Utah has blossomed.  Once a barren and unwanted place, Utah is now admired and sought after for its economic opportunities and high quality of life.

Like those who gave thanks for their first abundant harvest in 1848, we, too, should express our gratitude during this Thanksgiving holiday for our abundance.  We are truly a blessed people.

This Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for loving families and friends who buoy us up and inspire us to do better and be better.   Let us be grateful to live in this free nation, and especially for those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect it.  Let us be grateful to live in this great state, and for the plentiful opportunities available to its citizens.  Let us be grateful for the countless acts of generosity and service which take place daily in our state to help those who find themselves in need.

I leave my best wishes to all for this Thanksgiving holiday.  May your Thanksgiving also be one filled with “smiling faces and merry hearts.”