This is Derek Miller Speaking on Business.

Today most offices and stores are closed as we celebrate Thanksgiving – a perfect time to reflect on its history.

Over 400 years ago, in 1621, a small band of English colonists arrived in North America seeking freedom to worship as they wanted. Their rescue by Native Americans is the story of legend and the basis for our celebration today.

Utah’s first Thanksgiving came more than two centuries later. In 1848, like the Pilgrims, Mormon pioneers were escaping to a new land to worship as they wanted, but like the Pilgrims, they faced their own issues of near starvation. Fortunately, just as the Pilgrims experienced two centuries earlier, Native Americans came to the rescue, teaching their pioneer neighbors how to find edible plants and survive.

Two years went by before Territorial Governor Brigham Young proclaimed that January 1st would be the “Day of Praise and Thanksgiving” – encouraging Utahns to spend the day as families, prayerfully sharing their hearts with God and their substance with the poor.

More than a decade later, during the dark days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave us the date we celebrate today, proclaiming that the third Thursday of November was to be celebrated as a National Day of Thanksgiving, stating that it should, “Be observed… as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God.”

However you celebrate, I hope you’re enjoying the day. I’m Derek Miller with the Salt Lake Chamber, Speaking on Business.