Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

By Susan Blankenship

There are no references to Thanksgiving Day in 17th and 18th century Virginia, although the concept was first introduced nationally by a Congressional proclamation in October 1782. That said, the weeks following the annual harvest were often times of giving thanks communally for bountiful crops, safe passage to the colonies, temperate weather, and of fellowship and family celebrations.

George and Ann Mason of Gunston Hall were well-known hosts for such 18th century gatherings, with guest lists including not only local residents and Truro Parish worshippers, but also noteworthy founding fathers such as Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Henry. What grand gatherings these must have been.

As I prepared my home for a family Thanksgiving, I wondered if George Mason would have ever imagined that his home, though opulent and well-built, would still be standing in 2013, so very close to its original appearance, and welcoming guests from around the world. 

What a monument and legacy literally thousands have created together in his honor. With this in mind, the Staff of Gunston Hall offers thanks to the generous and insightful people who have lovingly and painstakingly made this achievement possible. They include: Members of the Gunston Hall Board of Regents and The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America, knowledgeable stewards and supporters of the property, who have insisted that restoration and maintenance be at the highest level of research and scholarship. The Commonwealth of Virginia, who received ownership of the property through last private owner Louis Hertle’s will and sustains Gunston Hall as an educational agency. The Friends of Gunston Hall, who are loyal and generous members of our most important annual fund raising program. The Gunston Hall Docents’ Association, volunteers who skillfully help plan and staff the many fine educational tours and annual public programs offered. The Gunston Hall Historic Interpreters’ Society, who re-create persons from the past with creativity and encourage audience engagement. The Mason Neck neighbors, civic associations and residents who embrace and support Gunston Hall as a significant asset to the community. There are many more individuals and organizations to which we owe thanks; unfortunately space and a reader’s patience prevent a complete listing. Please know that you are appreciated no less than those explicitly listed above.

Today and every day we give our humble thanks to you, our friends and supporters. We could not do it without you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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