Florida Voices: Floridians 'Have Much For Which We Can Be Thankful'
Around the State
Decades before the Pilgrims gathered around a table in Massachusetts in 1621, Florida had seen at least two separate Thanksgiving celebrations and, as in the more familiar tale from New England, they involved native Americans and religious liberty.
The first one took place in 1564 on the southern bank of the St. Johns River in modern-day Jacksonville.
French colonists led by Rene de Laudonniere settled at Fort Caroline, along the St. Johns, which they called the River of May, motivated by a variety of reasons -- including practicing their Calvinist faith in peace as well as to threaten the Spanish treasure fleet coming up from Mexico and South America. Laudonniere and the French settlers invited members of the local Timucuan tribe to share in their Thanksgiving feast.
In September 1565, a Spanish force led by devout Catholic Pedro Menendez de Aviles established their own colony called St. Augustine which was south of the French settlement. The Spanish also celebrated a Thanksgiving feast, which local natives attended, before readying themselves to confront the French.
What do today’s state leaders have to say about Thanksgiving?
Gov. Rick Scott
"It’s because of these courageous men and women that Floridians can enjoy the blessings of the holiday season. While many of these soldiers won’t have the opportunity to enjoy a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal with their loved ones, we are keeping all of them and their families in our thoughts and prayers this holiday season.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi
“I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater
"As a nation, we cherish our liberty and are thankful for our Constitution and armed forces that defend it. Despite the obstacles we face, both in our nation and in our daily lives, our values give us the strength to overcome adversity. We look upon the hardships of today with the resolve and determination that can change our tomorrows. The freedom to work hard to achieve a better future is the foundation that our nation is built on.
"This Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for the loving family and good friends around our tables. Let it be our commitment this holiday to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives.
"I hope each of you has a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami
Happy Thanksgiving from Sen. Rubio
U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami
“The significance of Thanksgiving has broadened over the years, but is traditionally a celebration of taking in the year’s harvest which began with the Pilgrims. The first nationally recognized Thanksgiving holiday was proclaimed by President George Washington on November 26, 1789 stating that it was to be "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."
"As a naturalized citizen, I am thankful to live in such a wonderful country in which people have the ability to celebrate in the way they desire and to pray to the God they choose.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston
"My kids call it ‘Turkey Day.’ But Thanksgiving is about more than just the turkey.
"It’s about taking some time to recognize and appreciate all the things we’re thankful for. It’s about spending time with family and friends. And it’s about taking just a minute to thank someone for the role they play in your life.
"Chances are you’re probably pretty busy right now, but I wanted to take this moment to say:
"From Rebecca, Jake, Shelby, my husband Steve, and myself: Happy Thanksgiving!
A holiday tradition with my kids -- volunteering at the Jubilee Center Soup Kitchen and Food Bank in Hollywood, Fla.
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor
“Looking forward to spending time with family tomorrow. Wishing you and yours a safe and happy [Thanksgiving].”
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, R-Miami Gardens (participating in the Annual North Miami Winternational Thanksgiving Day Parade)
Florida Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach
House Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry
"We, as Americans -- and particularly as Floridians -- have much for which we can be thankful. Please keep our troops in your prayers this holiday season. From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving."