Suzanne Fields

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing

He chastens and hastens His will to make known.

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.

Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.

We sang the music of that lovely hymn in public school when I was a child, but singing it now might provoke arrest. God has been chased out of the schoolhouse in many places in America. In Maryland public schools, the kids can thank anybody on Thanksgiving as long as they don't thank God.

But once upon a time, children were allowed to love the sentiment and the wordplay. That's particularly apt this Thanksgiving as we give thanks to our Marines fighting the wicked in Iraq so that we can look forward to winning a war to define the civilization our children - and the children of others - will inherit.

I will celebrate Thanksgiving with my extended family of 30 in Washington, the city that gave John Kerry 91 percent of its vote. I'll sit at a table closely reflecting that statistic. I might like to raise a toast to the president of the United States, and to the voters who voted to keep him where he is, but unless I've had too much sauvignon blanc I'll keep the peace. We can safely discuss sex but, at our table, like a lot of others across America this week, politics will give us mostly heartburn.

Amiable discussion of politics hasn't been possible in my circle since the day FDR died. I remember fierce fights over whether Harry Truman should have dropped the atom bomb, although some of the young people who were the angriest probably wouldn't have been at the table if he hadn't, and neither would their fathers. Cranberry sauce the color of the blood left on beaches across the Pacific stained the tablecloth that year.

After Adlai Stevenson lost twice, the rebels at the table poked fun at Dwight Eisenhower's stammering "stupidity," although the fathers and uncles of some of the mockers at the table didn't think the man who led them across Europe was stupid at all. Uncle Jack's "I Like Ike" button so upset one nephew that he spilled his mushroom gravy on a new tie. (Yes, children, the men at table wore ties in those days.)

A few Thanksgivings later, some at the table were persuaded that JFK stole the presidential election of '60 in Illinois, and others were glad he did if he did, and some of us who were the first in an immigrant family to go to college were thrilled that the nation's capital would finally get the high culture we thought was only what we deserved.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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