Thanksgiving in World War II

During World War II, political wrangling over the date to celebrate Thanksgiving, rationing and shortages, restrictions on travel, and disruptions to treasured traditions might have altered plans, but the spirit prevailed. The country paused to gather with family, reflect on blessings, and thank the Lord—the giver of all good gifts. Norman Rockwell’s beautiful “Freedom from Want” painting made its debut in 1943 and has come to symbolize the holiday. Which Date Do We Celebrate? In the summer of 1939, concerned retailers approached President Franklin Roosevelt. The Christmas shopping season never started before Thanksgiving (refreshing!). But in 1939, Thanksgiving—which had been celebrated on the last Thursday of November since 1863—would land on November 30, which would curtail revenue. In August 1939, Roosevelt issued a Presidential Proclamation changing Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November. This was a hugely unpopular decision. While 32 states adopted the earlier date, 16 refused to. In 1939, 1940, and 1941, two dates were celebrated, depending on the state. The later original date was nicknamed “Republican Thanksgiving” and the new early date “Democrat Thanksgiving” or “Franksgiving.” By mid-1941, Roosevelt admitted the earlier date had no effect on retail sales figures. On October 6, 1941, the House of Representatives voted to move Thanksgiving back to the last Thursday of November. The Senate amended the bill on December 9, 1941 (despite the previous day’s declaration of war on Japan) to make the holiday fall on the fourth Thursday, an accommodation for five-Thursday Novembers. The president signed the legislation on December 26, 1941. Thanksgiving in the Military Throughout the war, the US military went out of its way to provide traditional meals for the men overseas. Thousands of turkeys, with … Continue reading Thanksgiving in World War II