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What does Thanksgiving mean to you?

The Record Delta

BUCKHANNON — In elementary school, children are taught that Thanksgiving was when the pilgrims traveled to what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts and met Native Americans, whom  befriended and shared a meal. After,  the Native Americans left the new settlers with the land to claim as their own. That’s not really what happened, at all.

According to an online article by Claire Bugos from The Smithsonian Magazine last year, Bugos highlighted the history by asking George Washington University History Professor David Silverman, Ph.D. Silverman published the book, ‘This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving,’ last year, revolving around the Wampanoags and King Philip’s War.

The article explained some misconceptions, such as the reason for an alliance, the disappearance of the Native Americans, and if there was even a ‘feast’ at all.

The Wampanoag chief Ousamequin offered the Europeans an informal alliance to protect the Wampanoags from the Narragansetts, lasting for 50 years. Eventually, a war broke out between the former allies, which the pilgrims won.

In the article, Dr. Silverman explained, “Wampanoag adults have memories of being a kid during Thanksgiving season, sitting in school, feeling invisible and having to wade through the nonsense that teachers were shoveling their way. They felt like their people’s history as they understood it was being misrepresented. They felt that not only their classes, but society in general was making light of historical trauma which weighs around their neck like a millstone.”

Dr. Silverman reported one inaccuracy was that the Mayflower landing was the first time pilgrims and Native Americans have met, but the Wampanoags had a history lasting over a century with Europeans, involving slave raiding. “At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture,” Bugos wrote.

Some of the tribe did not want to ally with the settlers, and even resented the decision for the Wampanoag-English alliance, believing they caused more harm than good. However, at the time, the conflicts between the tribes mattered more than the conflict between the tribes as a whole against the Europeans. What is still unknown is precisely what triggered the King Philip’s War. Some believe the English were paranoid and thought the Native Americans were plotting against them, while others believe that is exactly what was happening.

As for property, when the pilgrims bought land from the Wampanoags, the tribe assumed it was to buy into the Wampanoags property, not out of it.

More surprisingly, Silverman believed that the big Thanksgiving meal is also a tall tale. According to Silverman, in 1769, a group of descendants of the pilgrims invented the meal to boost tourism in New England. The idea increased in popularity when Reverend Alexander Young ‘included it in a footnote’ and Abraham Lincoln declared the holiday in 1863, after the Civil War for national unity.

You can read the entire article at

One thing those in the United States use the day for is to reflect on all they have to be thankful for and, more common, food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, corn, casseroles, rolls, pumpkin pie, cranberries, sweet potatoes, green beans, you name it.

Congressman Alex X. Mooney released a statement on what he is thankful for this year. “Happy Thanksgiving West Virginia! I am thankful for our incredible Mountain State and the seventeen beautiful counties I am blessed to represent. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for our Mountaineers.

“On this always special day, I am thankful for my wife and three beautiful children. Family and faith are of the utmost importance to me. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are what makes this country so exceptional. Living in America with our God-given rights is something we should all be grateful for. As we build our economy, and protect our West Virginia way of life, we will come back strong. Just as my father served as a captain in the United States Army in Vietnam, I am thankful to our troops who fight for our freedoms every day. They risk their lives so that we can live in peace and enjoy a Thanksgiving like this. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you and your families!”

Buckhannon local Hazel Davidson submitted, “I’m thankful for everything that the good Lord has ever provided for me all my life. I’ve been so thankful to have a lot of friends and family, and I love them all.”

Upshur County Commissioner Kristie Tenney said, “It’s a time to reflect on gratitude and gratefulness.  I want to demonstrate these two qualities every day of the year.  Thanksgiving is a time of the year to reflect on how I can improve in these areas by being present where I am.  I focus on eliminating distractions and making sure to thank God for all His countless blessings.”

David Taylor reflected, “For me, like most folk, this time of the year conjures up the thoughts of carrying on the tradition of gatherings with family and friends; a ritual blanketed with aroma created from mounds of various dishes and meats prepared from recipes handed down from multiple generations.

“However, on a more personal level at this time of the year, I fondly ponder my Upshur County childhood days and growing up here in the 60s. Typically, Thanksgiving Day would involve at least two big get-togethers. Our family would typically divide Thanksgiving Day events between both sets of grandparents who lived at opposite ends of the county. My parents along with aunts, uncles, cousins and others would always trek across the mountains and from the points beyond to “come home” where we would, essentially all day, celebrate Thanksgiving Day. This involved at least two large meals with tons of leftovers supplemented with a mound of home-made desserts.”

Central West Virginia Republican Women (CWVRW) President Jeani Hawkins stated, “Thanksgiving is a special day to gather with family and close friends to celebrate our blessings. We give thanks to God for life, loved ones, our freedoms and all blessings that He has provided for us through Jesus Christ.”

“Thanksgiving: The smell of the roasting turkey, the laughter of friends and family, the ready deer hunter, preparing to bring home venison for our winter freezer stock. Families preparing to enjoy the blessings and bounty of the season,” Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus wrote. “During this past year, I am especially thankful for the Upshur County community. We live in a very special place on Planet Earth, our incredibly supportive and caring community is beyond compare. We are truly blessed!”