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11/26/03 - THANKSGIVING - 2003-11-26

Thanksgiving Day is being celebrated on November 27th this year in the United States. It is a time when Americans give thanks for freedom and other blessings. Thanksgiving was first observed by European settlers and native Americans in the early seventeenth century to celebrate a bountiful harvest.

On October 14th, 1789, George Washington, the first president of the newly created United States of America, issued a proclamation of thanksgiving for what he called “the peaceful and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness...and the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed.”

Each year at Thanksgiving, Americans traditionally gather with family and friends, not only to celebrate but, as President George W. Bush says, to “remember those in other lands who suffer under oppression, who long for freedom -- and we pray that they might one day live in a world of peace and in a free society”:

“We value our own civil rights, so we stand for the human rights of others. We affirm the God-given dignity of every person, so we are moved to action by poverty and oppression and famine and disease.”

U.S.-led coalitions have freed the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. Those countries, with U.S. assistance, are being rebuilt. But as President Bush says, the war against terrorism that began with a savage attack on September 11th, 2001, is being fought on many fronts:

“The hope that danger has passed is comforting, is understandable, and it is false. The attacks that followed –- on Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombasa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Istanbul –- were not dreams. They’re part of a global campaign by terrorist networks to intimidate and demoralize all who oppose them.”

But the terrorists will not succeed. “We will face these threats with open eyes,” says President Bush. “And we will defeat them.”