The country was at war when Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation. He described the blessings the nation enjoyed, despite the horrific war; bountiful crops, an increasing population, the fact that the war had not spread to other nations. He then announces an event that had happened before, but would become a fixture of American life that we enjoy today.
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.
Thankfulness, humility, and repentance are a holy trinity for personal growth. When individuals grow in these mutually reinforcing attributes the results can start the same process in families, communities, and nations. There are many plans and ideas about structures and larger forces that if changed would make a better world, but no solitary one of us can make them happen. At the same time, you cannot have a humble society that is not made up of humble individuals. By embracing thankfulness, humility, and repentance we can each do our part and trust that our efforts will lead to a larger reconciliation.