Florida Voices: Floridians 'Have Much For Which We Can Be Thankful'

By: Sunshine State News | Posted: November 21, 2012 10:00 PM

Thanksgiving 2012

Credit: Shutterstock - Bochkarev Photography

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

Rick Scott
“As families throughout Florida gather with their loved ones to eat turkey, watch football and offer thanks for the year’s blessings, it’s important we remember the service of more than 6,000 Floridians who are currently serving abroad to protect our American freedoms.

"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

Pam Bondi
“Thanksgiving is such an important time of year. It is a time to gather with our loved ones and reflect on and celebrate the many blessings God has bestowed on us. As we give thanks with friends and family, I ask Floridians to remember those serving our country who are away from their families this Thanksgiving. It is because of their commitment that we are able to enjoy our freedom.

“I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.”

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater

Jeff Atwater
"Nearly 400 years ago, Plymouth colonists first shared a feast in gratitude for the plentiful autumn harvest. Despite losing many friends and family in those first difficult years, early Americans came together with Native Americans to give thanks for their new freedoms in the New World. America has always weathered the most tumultuous of storms, never losing sight of what we appreciate most.

"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

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Happy Thanksgiving from Sen. Rubio

U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami

David Rivera
"As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we can be thankful we live in a nation where we enjoy so many freedoms."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

Ileana Ros Lehtinen
“I would like to wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving. We take this time each year to gather with our friends and family to give thanks for our many blessings. I am thankful for my wonderful family who are my bedrock of support. We, as Americans, have many reasons for which we should be thankful. Though the unemployment rate remains high, we are still blessed to live in such a prosperous nation. Our future is bright because of the ability of the American people to rise to any challenge we face.

“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

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Volunters

"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

Gus Bilirakis

“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)

Frederica Wilson
“Thanksgiving Day is a time to reflect and gives thanks for family, friends and our communities. What better way to exemplify the “American spirit” than a parade to bring the community together. Also, let us open up our hearts and remember the less fortunate. I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday.”

Florida Rep. Pat Rooney, R-West Palm Beach

Pat Rooney
"If you're heading out on the road or into the skies this holiday weekend, a little patience will help you arrive safely and sanely."

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz‏, R-Fort Walton Beach

Matt Gaetz
"USDA is running a "meat and poultry hotline." Did our framers really intend this to be a function of the federal government?"

House Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach

Janet Adkins
“Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!”

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry

Lenny Curry
"Wishing you all the warmth and happiness that time spent with friends and family can bring this Thanksgiving.

"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."

Comments (1)

10:27AM NOV 22ND 2012
Do we REALLY need partisan political comments on Thanksgiving (in a futile attempt at 'Gotcha') - especially on federal matters by a state legislator?

"USDA is running a "meat and poultry hotline." Did our framers really intend this to be a function of the fed govt?" - Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz‏, R-Fort Walton Beach

Pathetic, petty, partisanship . . . . .will he now take on the U.S. Postal Service and food stamps on Christmas? . . . . .

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