In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Long Island Wins would like to express gratitude to all of our readers, contributors, and the immigration advocates who stand up for the most vulnerable among us.
It’s also important to remember the immigrant origins of the time-honored American holiday. As the English pilgrims left their homeland on the Mayflower in September 1620, they sought freedom to practice the religion of their choosing. When they arrived here in the New World, they faced a brutal winter that decimated their original crew and passengers, with only half surviving through the season.
Among the pilgrims’ first greeters was Squanto, a native American who had previously been kidnapped by an Englishman and sold into slavery. He eventually escaped and was able to return to his home. Squanto could have easily turned his back on the arriving pilgrims, but chose not only to welcome them, but also taught them how to grow corn and fish in the local rivers.
Squanto’s example represents a shining hallmark of what Americans should strive to be: welcoming to those who have journeyed far and wide—whether that might be crossing the Atlantic Ocean or the Rio Grande—to help them feel at home.
With the help of the welcoming native Americans, the pilgrims were able to eventually sustain themselves. They celebrated their first successful harvest the next year in November and invited their new native allies for a three-day festival that would eventually survive through the ages as Thanksgiving.
If Squanto could welcome the English, more Long Islanders can hold a hand out in compassion for our immigrant neighbors. Unless you’re a native American, you’re either a descendant of immigrants or an immigrant yourself.
As we look around the dinner table and say our thanks, remember your heritage and ensure that we continue to extend the same welcoming hand that reached out almost 400 years ago.