“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” wrote President Lincoln in his 1863 proclamation establishing the first national day of Thanksgiving. “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
While people generally don’t have kind things to say about 2020, it’s important to remember we all do have many blessings to be grateful for in our lives. As has become a tradition here at ECW, some of our historians wanted to share a few words about the things they were thankful for this year. Read on to share in the gratitude.
Most of all, ECW is thankful for YOU, Faithful Reader. We wish you and all your loved ones a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
Sarah Kay Bierle: I’m thankful for supportive friends in the history field who have told me numerous times this year to be easier on myself, to believe that research libraries will reopen, and to call when I need to chat.
Doug Crenshaw: I’m thankful that I volunteered for the National Park Service. There, I ran into people like Bert Dunkerly and Bob Krick, who have encouraged me to research and write. I’m also thankful for the support of the ECW “Polish Brotherhood,” Chris Mackowski and Chris Kolakowski, who have helped me along the way.
Caroline Davis: In a year where it seems so much has been lost, it was a great pleasure to get to work at Vicksburg National Military Park. While the season wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated, I am still thankful. I was able to expand my history family and build lasting relationships. I was able to wake up each morning with the USS Cairo in my front yard—who wouldn’t be stoked about that! 2020 has been rough, and not at all what I had hoped “my year” would have in store, but nevertheless, it’s definitely been one for the history books.
David Dixon: I am thankful that we are using technology to keep in touch and stay safe during these dangerous times.
Jon-Erik Gilot: I’m thankful for the doors that have been opened to me through Emerging Civil War – research opportunities, writing collaborations, publishing outlets, expanded networking. It’s wonderful to be a part of the ECW community!
Meg Groeling: I am thankful to have met a group of history-minded folks (like me) who make room in their lives for a silly old lady who somehow thinks she can write. Also for all of my friends (and wives, kids, grandkids!) at Emerging Civil War, who actually laugh at my puns and jokes. Huzzah!!
Steward T. Henderson: I am thankful for creating and leading the From Enslaved to Soldier tour and once again working for the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. I am thankful that my wife, Malanna’s book, On the Wings of Freedom, was published. I wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving !
Dwight Hughes: This year, I’m very thankful for all the support and encouragement from the great folks at ECW and Savas Beatie in completing my first ECW Series volume–but hopefully not the last–to be published next spring. It’s an honor to be counted among this dedicated team of public historians. Thank you!
Frank Jastrzembski: I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to contribute with ECW.
Brian Matthew Jordan: I’m thankful for continued collaboration with so many talented scholars, both within the ECW family and beyond. I’m even more thankful for the folks who read our books and attend our talks. This most unusual year has revealed the extent to which dialog and engagement with the lay public sustains us, enriches us, and shapes our ideas.
Chris Kolakowski: I am thankful for the fresh perspectives living in a new state and heading a new museum have provided. I am thankful for the support and encouragement of my wife, Alice: my family here in Wisconsin; my staff at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum; and my superiors and colleagues in the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs. I also am thankful for all who make ECW go and prosper. Lastly, I am thankful for continued health for my family and me.
Chris Mackowski: This is the year I became a grandfather for the first time, so by that measure, 2020 has been wonderful for me and my family. I’m grateful for my three children and son-in-law and my granddaughter. I’m grateful for–and to–my wife, Jennifer. I’m grateful for all the hard work my ECW colleagues put into this ongoing project and its many tendrils. And I’m grateful the Civil War community continues to learn to adapt to the age of COVID; as a result of those adaptations, I’ve had some really fun opportunities and experiences to share history in new ways.
Kevin Pawlak: Sounds easy and cheesy but I’m thankful for all of my ECW and ERW colleagues. Happy Thanksgiving!
Dave Powell: One thing I am certainly grateful for is that after nearly 20 years, people still eagerly sign up for the Chickamauga Study Group Seminar in March. I have made many great friends and fellow Civil War obsessives through that event, and it is great to see that it still thrives. I had no idea it would take on a life of its own when I started it.
Cecily Nelson Zander: I’m very thankful to have been welcomed into the ECW community this year!