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Recorded on November 23, 2011

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook.

21st Century Thanksgivings mean family, food, football—and tons of holiday shopping. But the original Thanksgiving was a feast that brought Pilgrims and Indians together in harmony. The origin is strongly religious.

In 1789, President George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, devoted to serving God.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln set the third Thursday in November as the regular date, which we've followed ever since. Washington, Lincoln, and other Presidents called it a day to thank God, but not following the patterns of any particular religion.

Still, research shows that regular churchgoers are more likely to help others through private charities as well—more than three times as likely as non-churchgoers—and also more likely to be volunteers.

That's a special way of giving thanks—when we serve others, we serve God.

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook.