Nov 24 (Reuters) – The United States marked the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday with American holiday traditions, parades and football, a moment of celebration overshadowed by a week of gun violence.
An official holiday dating back to the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be the day to give thanks and seek healing. School children learn to trace the U.S. holidaymakers who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and celebrated the autumn harvest with the Wampanoag people. Among Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of dark reflection on the genocide that followed.
Americans were mourning the loss of a pair of fatal shootings this year. On Saturday, an assailant opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five people. On Tuesday, a Walmart employee drove six co-workers and turned the gun on himself in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Those were just two of more than 600 mass shootings this year alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive, using the definition of four or more people shot or killed, including non-shooters.
President Joe Biden on Thursday called the two owners of the fountain nightspot Club Q, Nic Grzecka and Matthew Haynes, to offer condolences and thank them for their contributions to the community, the White House said.
While visiting Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, to thank first responders for Thanksgiving, Biden told reporters that he would pass some form of gun control before the new Congress sits in January, possibly renewing efforts to restrict assault weapons.
“We still accept the idea that buying semi-automatic weapons is sick. It’s just sick. It has no redeeming social value, none, none. There is no single rational rationale for it other than profits for gun manufacturers,” Biden said; that is to say, about certain guns, like more common and less lethal weapons, including semi-automatic ones.
Earlier, Biden phoned the presenters of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day in New York, a televised extravaganza of driving, swimming and performances by stars including Dionne Warwick, who performed the classic “What the World Needs Now.”
The approach of a long holiday weekend typically ignites a travel frenzy, as families scattered across the country gather for holiday meals.
The period after Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the private Christmas season, offering a snapshot of the state of the US economy.
The American television cat serves up turkey dinners with mounds of side dishes and desserts. He was watching three games in the National Football League on Thursday.
Thanksgiving also suggests the giving of alms to the poor and hungry, a complicated task for the poulterers who have removed about 8 million turkeys, making the big birds rarer and thus more expensive this year. Turkey’s meat production this year is forecast to fall to 7% by 2021, according to US government data.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Additional report by Nandita Bose in Nantucket, Massachusetts; edited by Jonathan Oates
Our standards: Trust in the Thomson Reuters Principles.