THANKSGIVING PRAYER FOR FERGUSON– Ronald Reagan, 1985

For many residents in Ferguson, MO, Thanksgiving Day may be somewhat somber due to the turbulent riotous aftermath that has decimated the community. It is hard to imagine how families, businesses and even church leaders could have managed to cope with the stress and fear-mongering from the likes of outside instigators and race pandering of alleged reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton over the past several months…

The prayers for peace and for calm had been all but ignored or lost amongst the media hyping slogans of “Justice for Michael Brown” and “Arrest and Convict Officer Darren Wilson”. Each moment of each day since August 9th when Ferguson became a household word synonymous with racism and police brutality, the small city and its citizens have not experienced a day of rest.

That is why during this weekend of Thanksgiving it might be more than a stretch for individuals who were not rioting, looting and creating general mayhem to wonder what is there to celebrate? After all, many of the employees at the businesses that were torched now are unemployed. The owners who had realized their dream to own a business were stripped of that dream by criminals with larceny in their heart.

Having been victimized by similar acts of riotous felons who masked their intent to rob, plunder and even harm store owners and innocent citizens alike, it is fair to say that “Black Power” for them meant black destruction. The 1967 Detroit riot and 1968 community riot and even smaller 1970 riot were not peaceful protests. They may have begun out of frustration with police or the assassination of Rev. Martin King Jr. or disagreements with discrimination. In the end, it was black businesses and black home owners and black employees who suffered and became victims.

So again, what does it mean for a community like Ferguson to want and yes even need to rebuild after the inmates have taken over the asylum of their own criminal creation? As a survivor of previous riot scarred communities, I can say the hope and the faith needed does reside within the hearts, spirits and yes, souls, of those innocent residents that understand the rioters and the children of the rioters who joined them, needed to be identified and, yes, turned over for prosecution.

Ferguson is not any different than any other small town in America that has residents who work hard for a living and raise families and attend church. Much like other communities there are the fringe residents who raise kids with the same type of lack of discipline and lack of moral guidance and principles which prevent them from being decent when they can choose to rob, steal, bully and, yes, even attack police officers.

But there is a prayer that each caring and concerned person of Ferguson and of this country can say on their behalf that has meaning and can instill hope in their hearts as they manage through these perilous days, weeks and possibly months. It is a prayer which was offered up by President Ronald Reagan in a 1985 speech celebrating American Liberty.
Read as President Reagan talks in his words about liberty, which is transformative and liberty which is worth pursuing even in the darkest of times.

Ronald Reagan’s 1985 Thanksgiving Speech

Good morning, everyone. You know, the Statue of Liberty and this wonderful holiday called Thanksgiving go together naturally because although as Americans we have many things for which to be thankful, none is more important than our liberty.

Liberty: that quality of government, that brightness of mind and spirit for which the Pilgrim Fathers braved the seas and Americans for two centuries have laid down their lives.

Today, while religion is suppressed in perhaps one third of the world, we Americans are free to worship the Almighty as we choose.

While entire nations must endure the yoke of tyranny, we are free to speak our minds, to enjoy an unfettered and vigorous press, and to make government abide by the limits we deem just.

While millions live behind walls, we remain free to travel throughout the land to share this precious day with those we love most deeply – the members of our families.

My fellow Americans, let us keep this Thanksgiving Day sacred. Let us thank God for the bounty and goodness of our nation. And as a measure of our gratitude, let us rededicate ourselves to the preservation of this: the land of the free and the home of the brave.

From the Reagan family to your family: Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you all.

For the citizens of Ferguson, while you may be focusing on how to survive the week of heartbreak and turmoil which has sadly afflicted many of your community, you are thought of kindly and sincerely by your fellow Americans.

There is a superb goodness in this nation and in your community that supersedes the examples of careless evil that the instigators and participants of violence have displayed in your streets. Their justice will be visited upon their heads by the law when they are caught. There is a God who knows your suffering and comforts your pain.

We as Americans of principles and values guiding by a loving God pray for you and are guided by the strength of this precious day because we are part of your Ferguson family and you are part of the American family.

As Reagan said, in the light of liberty, there is a “brightness of mind and spirit for which the Pilgrim Fathers braved the seas and Americans for two centuries have laid down their lives.” This Thanksgiving Day and beyond you are not alone in your darkest hour because Americans and their prayers and their actions will join you to rebuild and help restore Ferguson.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebetancourts/3637557774/

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Kevin Fobbs

About the author, Kevin Fobbs: Kevin Fobbs has more than 35 years of wide-ranging experience as a community and tenant organizer, Legal Services outreach program director, public relations consultant, business executive, gubernatorial and presidential appointee, political advisor, widely published writer, and national lecturer. Kevin is co-chair and co-founder of AC-3 (American-Canadian Conservative Coalition) that focuses on issues on both sides of the border between the two countries. View all articles by Kevin Fobbs

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