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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Celebrating Thanksgiving doesn’t mean ignoring U.S. atrocities

Thanksgiving
 
(Anthony Russo / For The Times)

To the editor: The Column One by reporter Esmeralda Bermudez on her family’s decision to stop celebrating Thanksgiving illustrates something I see more frequently. Her education, intellect and passion may give her family a more accurate reading of our complex history, but her response of attacking a national day of thanksgiving is misguided.

Our nearly 250-year history is full of horrific instances of injustice, cruelty, narrow-mindedness and violence. I get that. But there is a reason why many millions of people have and continue to come to this country — not because of our past, but in spite of it. The sum of all that makes this country great exceeds the things that have made it less than ideal.

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because we are a nation without fault. We celebrate because we are thankful for all that we have, whether it be family, friends, a garden, a book to read or an opportunity that can’t be replicated anywhere else on the planet.

Ray Brown, Downey

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To the editor: I offer Bermudez a ray of hope with regard to Thanksgiving.

I recently attended my granddaughter’s second-grade “Family Feast.” Prior to the feast, each child decorated a small paper doll that represented their culture and the holidays they celebrate. Families were encouraged to bring a dish of their choosing.

Recordings of the children explaining their dolls were shared as we ate together. There were no Pilgrims or Indians. It was very heartwarming and interesting to learn about all the cultures represented.

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Thanks to the L.A. Times for publishing an article that reflects those who feel marginalized by this national holiday. I am thankful to live in a country where one can express alternate views.

Deborah Horn, Altadena

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To the editor: I found Bermudez’s article to be very interesting. It brought back feelings of shame over my ancestral history.

In 1679 my ancestor Arthur Aylsworth joined others living in what would eventually become Rhode Island in signing a petition to King Charles II of England. They complained about the savages living on their land. This is hideous and indeed shameful.

On the other hand, my mother was an immigrant who arrived in New York speaking Polish and Yiddish. By the time she was in her 20s she was teaching English elocution at a Brooklyn high school. Surely, her gratitude (and mine) are reasons to give thanks.

Why not celebrate our communal land and the fact that, despite the guilt and shame of our ancestors and the treatment of Native Americans, we have created a relatively humane country?

Peggy Aylsworth, Santa Monica

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To the editor: Bermudez’s story focuses on the feelings of immigrants and the country’s history.

I too am an immigrant, a Holocaust survivor. I know U.S. and world history — I lived through some of it. In my opinion, Bermudez dwells on her insecurities and foists them on her child.

Yes, history is knowledge; it cannot be changed. I made a concerted effort not to divulge my nightmares or the horrors I witnessed to my children until they were adults and were able to understand my history in the context of the times and attempt to properly acknowledge world truths. I was trying my very best to raise my two American daughters to be charitable, caring and kind citizens of this great country.

Follow American traditions, including being grateful that millions of human beings have been allowed the privilege to participate in living a life without fear. You cannot change the past, so believe in the future.

Marianne Bobick, Long Beach


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