Jamie Allard: 400 years since the first Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on community coming together to thrive



A lot has changed since that first Thanksgiving. At that time, I doubt the people knew the historical weight of their actions, or that their feast would be commemorated 400 years later.

They were just regular people doing their best to survive. They were moms, dads, children, strangers, new friends, helping each other through the dark times after surviving a voyage across an enormous ocean to an unknown place, where they hoped to worship in peace.

But survival wasn’t enough for them. They wanted to thrive. I can imagine their exhaustion, grief, and fortitude as they came together in community to make peace, and give thanks. It is only with true gratitude in our hearts that we can overcome our differences, our challenges, and our circumstances to move from surviving to thriving. 

The past two years of pandemic panic have felt like survival mode. That spirit of the early European settlers and the Native Americans who aided them has been challenged, threatened, and canceled across our nation. But history teaches us that the pressure of tough times is what builds community. In our struggles, we relearn that we need each other. We dig deep, find thankfulness for what we have, and give to our neighbors. 

This Thanksgiving, I invite you to pause and look beyond the food, the day off, the football, and the shopping to remember the spirit of that first Thanksgiving. Imagine the grief at the depth of their loss, the strength of their bonds forged in overcoming death, and their overwhelming gratitude for unlikely friends.

Like them, we are not defeated. Because of them, we live in this great nation. As a hispanic American, with deep Chilean roots, I am forever thankful for our American freedom, our family, the grace of God, and those who went before us. Look around and beyond our differences to find true thanks that will move us forward as a country, just as it did 400 years ago. 

I have faith that if we can hold that thanks in our hearts, we can move from surviving to thriving once more.

Jamie Allard is an Anchorage Assembly representative from Chugiak/Eagle River.


    • Judie, you should not lump Crystal Kennedy with the insane Marxist Nine, as she is a very decent and responsible person as well. She is just not as openly confrontational (that’s not a criticism, just a fact) as Jamie Allard, so she receives less publicity as a result.

  1. “…with deep Chilean roots…” That explains a lot. From all that I’ve heard and read, Chilean women have strong family values. They pay close attention to their children’s well being and education. They’re excellent home makers. They “ride for the brand”.
    Now I understand better why I like Jamie.

  2. The Irish side of my family (McKee) came to America and homesteaded in NE Oklahoma. They were farmers and farmers have the same sort of fortitude. Back then and similar to today, farmers help each other in a communal way with barn raising, doctoring livestock and community fellowship. Being of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma and also these early settlers, I was raised in a different time and in a different way than many children are today. It’s sad really that those times are lost. It’s what helped our nation build itself and get through the 20th century. I am optimistic as Jamie is that we can survive this and if we all come together like the pilgrims did, we may have a chance to overcome the divisiveness that currently infests our nation. We can only hope.

  3. Proud and blessed to have you representing Eagle River/Chugiak. Thank you for all the work you do and for speaking for us. We are all in this together. May God bless you, your family and all of us. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Well said. I truly believe that when we can be more thankful for what we have that we will quit being victims of what we don’t have.

  5. Nice to hear reflective words about this wonderful holiday, rather than the race-baiting **** you get from other media outlets.

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