February 20, 2024
We are pleased to keep with the War Room tradition of republishing a Thanksgiving message from the past. We find these messages provide perspective in several ways. Perspective on the past by revisiting the concerns, hopes, and blessings of those who have gone before. Perspective on the present in seeing that our concerns, hopes, and blessings are often not so dissimilar. And for the meaning of this particular day, we also see that there is always something for which we can give thanks. In many respects, 1968 was a grim year with war in Vietnam and division at home. Iconic images from that year include the Saigon police chief summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner during the Tet Offensive in its opening months or bloodied protesters at the Democratic National Convention in the late summer. Between these events came the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. A grim year. President Lyndon B. Johnson certainly might have been forgiven for feeling little reason to give thanks. Earlier that year, he had made the surprise announcement that he would not run for re-election. Yet in Thanksgiving he issued the short Proclamation 3881 reproduced below. We might wonder how much the words truly reflected Johnson’s inner state. Regardless, we might find our own model of placing things into perspective with this short message, powerful in its simplicity. Besides, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that the year would end with astronauts completing the first manned trip to lunar orbit during the Apollo 8 mission. That voyage provided another iconic image — the famous “Earthrise” as their spacecraft came out from behind the far side of the moon. It is justly one of the most famous photographs ever because it provided unmatched perspective in the most literal sense. From War Room to our valued readers, we are thankful for your continued engagement. We hope that you find time to be thankful for the good in your life.

These events inspire not only the deepest gratitude, but confidence that our nation, the beneficiary of good fortune beyond that of any nation in history, will surmount its present trials and achieve a more just society for its people.

We are pleased to keep with the War Room tradition of republishing a Thanksgiving message from the past. We find these messages provide perspective in several ways. Perspective on the past by revisiting the concerns, hopes, and blessings of those who have gone before. Perspective on the present in seeing that our concerns, hopes, and blessings are often not so dissimilar. And for the meaning of this particular day, we also see that there is always something for which we can give thanks.

In many respects, 1968 was a grim year with war in Vietnam and division at home. Iconic images from that year include the Saigon police chief summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner during the Tet Offensive in its opening months or bloodied protesters at the Democratic National Convention in the late summer. Between these events came the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. A grim year.

President Lyndon B. Johnson certainly might have been forgiven for feeling little reason to give thanks. Earlier that year, he had made the surprise announcement that he would not run for re-election. Yet in Thanksgiving he issued the short Proclamation 3881 reproduced below. We might wonder how much the words truly reflected Johnson’s inner state. Regardless, we might find our own model of placing things into perspective with this short message, powerful in its simplicity.

Besides, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that the year would end with astronauts completing the first manned trip to lunar orbit during the Apollo 8 mission. That voyage provided another iconic image — the famous “Earthrise” as their spacecraft came out from behind the far side of the moon. It is justly one of the most famous photographs ever because it provided unmatched perspective in the most literal sense.

From War Room to our valued readers, we are thankful for your continued engagement. We hope that you find time to be thankful for the good in your life.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Americans, looking back on the tumultuous events of 1968, may be more inclined to ask God’s mercy and guidance than to offer Him thanks for his blessings.

There are many events in this year that deserve our remembrance, and give us cause for thanksgiving:

–the endurance and stability of our democracy, as we prepare once more for an orderly transition of authority;

–the renewed determination, on the part of millions of Americans, to bridge our divisions;

–the beginning of talks with our adversaries, that will, we pray, lead to peace in Vietnam;

–the increasing prosperity of our people, including those who were denied any share in America’s blessings in the past;

–the achievement of new breakthroughs in medical science, and new victories over disease.

These events inspire not only the deepest gratitude, but confidence that our nation, the beneficiary of good fortune beyond that of any nation in history, will surmount its present trials and achieve a more just society for its people. In this season, let us offer more than words of thanksgiving to God. Let us resolve to offer Him the best that is within us–tolerance, respect for life, faith in the destiny of all men to live in peace.

Now, Therefore, I, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States of America, in consonance with Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code designating the fourth Thursday of November in each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1968 as a day of national thanksgiving.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-third.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army, or the Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office

Photo Credit: Arnold Newman, White House Press Office (WHPO), Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum

Previous Thanksgiving Messages

3 thoughts on “LYNDON B. JOHNSON: THANKSGIVING 1968

  1. Even in Lubbock, Texas they reprint a more eloquent Thanksgiving message.

    Washington DC, October 3, 1863

    By the President of the United States of America.

    A Proclamation.

    The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
    In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
    Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
    No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
    It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

    In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

    Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

    By the President: Abraham Lincoln

    William H. Seward, Secretary of State

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