President Kennedy’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation and Pardon, 1963

President John F. Kennedy pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey – November 18, 1963
Courtesy John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

…Today we give our thanks, most of all, for the ideals of honor and faith we inherit from our forefathers – for the decency of purpose, steadfastness of resolve and strength of will, for the courage and the humility, which they possessed and which we must seek every day to emulate. As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.
Let us therefore proclaim our gratitude to Providence for manifold blessings – let us be humbly thankful for inherited ideals – and let us resolve to share those blessings and those ideals with our fellow human beings throughout the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of the Congress approved December 26, 1941, 55 Stat. 862 (5 U.S.C. 87b), designating the fourth Thursday of November in each year as Thanksgiving Day, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 1963, as a day of national thanksgiving.

On that day let us gather in sanctuaries dedicated to worship and in homes blessed by family affection to express our gratitude for the glorious gifts of God; and let us earnestly and humbly pray that He will continue to guide and sustain us in the great unfinished tasks of achieving peace, justice, and understanding among all men and nations and of ending misery and suffering wherever they exist.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.
DONE at the City of Washington this fourth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-eighth.
John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy didn’t live to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day November 28, 1963. President Lyndon Johnson included these words in his Thanksgiving Day message:

On this Thanksgiving Day, as we gather in the warmth of our families, in the mutual love and respect which we have for one another, and as we bow our heads in submission to divine providence, let us also thank God for the years that He gave us inspiration through His servant, John F. Kennedy.

3 Responses to President Kennedy’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation and Pardon, 1963

  1. IAN PATON says:

    Thank you for this… I found myself idling at a computer here in London, and wondering if JFK was assassinated before or after Thanksgiving.. and found these words and sentiments… Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans

  2. Kay says:

    It still brings tears to my eyes to remember that day, 49 years ago today. I’m thankful that this year, voters overcame so many obstacles to re-elect President Obama and that we have the promise of better government ahead.

  3. Gabrielle says:

    I was born in 1963 and was looking online for something nostalgic to discuss at Thanksgiving dinner. What a surprise to find such a momentous event. May we all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.