by Phil Phillips - Thursday, November 26, 2020
Regardless of the year’s unprecedented and ongoing challenges, we Americans have so many reasons to give thanks. As we celebrate the harvest and our blessings of the past year, it is inspiring to note that 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage on the Mayflower from England to the New World in search of civil and religious freedoms and the promise of a better tomorrow. After 66 days, the 102 colonists on board landed on Plymouth Rock and, in 1621, set aside a harvest day with the Wampanoag people to acknowledge their blessings. Four centuries later, we celebrate our own Thanksgiving with grateful hearts and with respect for their courage and strength.
Even with COVID-19 and the related issues of this year, I’m thankful that I still live in a free country where I can climb into a deer stand or a duck blind on Thanksgiving morning and share the Thanksgiving meal with family and friends in the afternoon. Sadly, as Fox News reports, some misguided officials in states like Oregon are restricting Thanksgiving gatherings all while refusing to acknowledge the hundreds who assemble for nightly riots in cities such as Portland. Fortunately, burning down one’s city is not the norm.
And while Election Day has turned into Election Month—and still is not over—the results we do have are promising and uplifting. Honest, law-abiding Americans stood up for our democracy on Nov. 3 and overwhelmingly rejected socialism to keep America on the track of personal liberty and freedom—the very things upon which our country was founded. Today we are reminded that America’s history is not to be erased by those who try to take away freedoms and define reality. Today we give thanks for God and country, our families and friends and our cherished American traditions. For us hunters the freedom to hunt ranks somewhere at the top of the list.
And that brings up another point for us hunters because no special day of thanks is complete without acknowledging the National Rifle Association. We enjoy the freedom to hunt specifically because of the NRA. As this website shares, without the NRA there is no Second Amendment or hunting. And because the NRA recognizes that such rights come with responsibility, it is the NRA that also provides the nationwide safety, education and training programs and resources we need for a lifetime of hunting enjoyment, making memories in the field, providing for ourselves and our families just like the Pilgrims did.
But the NRA’s service to Americans runs deeper yet. In an era when personal rights and freedoms in countless other nations have been ripped away or never existed to begin with, be sure to tell your dinner guests who maybe do not hunt or own a firearm that the NRA has their backs, too. When it comes to the blessings of liberty, share that the NRA, founded in 1871, is America’s oldest civil rights organization, standing for the very freedoms the Pilgrims sought in 1620 as they came ashore with hope, which is rewarding in itself. In honoring our American history and freedom, share how the NRA’s National Firearms Museum, by the way, has a firearm from that voyage on display, commonly referred to as the “Mayflower gun.” Considering it belonged to John Alden, one of the Pilgrim leaders of Plymouth Colony, who knows: It may have dropped the first Thanksgiving turkey.
Circling back to my fellow American hunters, the blessings of the harvest affect us directly as we embrace our role as a part of nature. As we stop to give thanks today, we are making sure the right moments matter at a time when so much in our world is uncertain. And as many of us take a moment to social-distance in the woods and fields before dinner, we are keeping with our American roots, enjoying the blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness the best and most fulfilling way we know how.
About the Author
NRA Life member, award-winning outdoor TV host and recreational real estate associate broker Phil Phillips has hunted five continents, taking more than 200 big-game animals and nearly 60 species worldwide. Prior to hosting hunting programs, he started Colorado's first Ranching for Wildlife Program for antelope, which he ran for 15 years. Working alongside professional land managers to restore wildlife and protect habitat, Phil went on to guide clients to 500-plus big-game animals that have qualified for the record book. In 1992 Safari Club International honored him as the North American Bowhunting Outfitter of the Year. Phillips writes regularly about hunting and predator issues, particularly those impacting his home state of Colorado. You can email him at email@example.com.
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