While a day of thanks has been observed in the United States and Canada since the days of our earliest European settlers, this year marks America’s 150th official Thanksgiving celebration. It was all begun, only 25 years before this union’s founding, by President Abraham Lincoln on the heels of his Gettysburg Address, commemorating one of the bloodiest battles on American soil.
The sacrifices of so many since that time also deserve our gratitude. The old shackles of slavery that Lincoln and his contemporaries overcame were replaced with the crushing burden of child labor, 16 hour workdays, company towns and starvation wages. We are thankful that all of those challenges were met and overcome by our predecessors who toiled in the factories, marched in the streets, and passed the torch to future generations in the labor movement.
President John F. Kennedy once noted that, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
In honor of the sacrifices of so many who came before us, fought for their families futures in the workplace and worked to put food on their table, let us give thanks and honor them by coming together as Union Brothers and Sisters. Let’s show the solidarity and brotherhood that make us unique by taking some time to help those less fortunate than us. I also ask that you consider standing by those workers who are forced to be away from their families this holiday by choosing to spend time with your own family rather than participate in any shopping sprees that miss the real meaning of Thanksgiving.
We also owe special thanks to those who have come to the aid of members who have faced tough economic times and the hardships of natural disasters. On behalf of the 216,000 members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, we join them in wishing all a very happy Thanksgiving.
Joseph Nigro, General President
Joseph Sellers, General Secretary-Treasurer
John Previsich, President, Transportation Division